Carl J. DeBrecht
Biography: Carl Joseph DeBrecht was born on March 4, 1917, in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the son of Fred DeBrecht and May Walter, and attended St. Anthony Grade School and Hadley Technical High School. After graduating, he found work at the International Shoe Company where he worked as a maintenance mechanic.
In 1940, he married the former Victoria E. Dollard who was the daughter of Patrick Dollard and Magdalen J. Bast.
Service Time: Carl entered the service on December 14, 1942, at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. He was sent to Fort Hood, Texas, for his basic training and was then assigned to Company C of the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 801st trained with the M10 tank destroyer and Carl became a driver.
They shipped from Boston on February 28, 1944, on the H.M.S. Britannic, and arrived in England on March 11, 1944. Originally trained with self-propelled TDs, they converted to the 3″ towed gun and landed at Utah Beach on June 13th. Carl now served as a driver of the half-track, used to tow the gun, and loader for the gun.
The 801st participated in the capture of Cherbourg and fought at Mortain in early August, reaching the outskirts of Paris on August 25. They entered Belgium on September 8 and then moved into Germany on September 12. Supporting operations in the Hürtgen Forest beginning late November, they were on the line in the Ardennes when the German offensive struck on December 16th. They moved to Aachen, Germany, in February, 1945, and crossed the Roer River on February 25, reaching the Rhine River south of Düsseldorf soon after.
On March 29, they crossed the Rhine near Wessel and supported the drive to the Ruhr, then turning east to the Elbe River. The unit was transferred south and supported operations in the Harz Mountains, in late April, and converted to M18 tank destroyer’s. They finally crossing the Danube and reaching the Inn River, outside Hitler’s birthplace, Brunnau, Austria, by VE Day. One of the highlights of Carl’s time in the service was when he met Ingrid Bergman at the end of the war.
In the photo above, you can see Carl sitting in the driving position of one of the unit’s M20 Armored Cars.
Carl received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He received the WWII Victory Medal, EAME medal, American Campaign Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He left the service on December 8, 1945, just where he entered, the Jefferson Barracks, at the rank of Technician 4th Grade.
Now back home, Carl went to work for the Singer Corporation as a machinist. He later move into sales and eventually become a regional representative for the company. He and Victoria had four sons, John, Steve, Kevin and Mark. Although his work and family took up most of his time, he did enjoy building things. He was also a dedicated member of the St. Joan of Ark Church, in St. Louis. He retired from Singer in the late 1970s.
I want to thank Carl for his service to this country. We wish him long life and happiness. I want to thank his son, Mark, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.