Biography: Martin Hauser was born on December 22, 1920, in Los Angeles, California. He was the son of Mikaly “Michael” Hauser and Francisco Liebzeit and attended Eastman grade school, Robert Lewis Stevenson Jr. High and Garfiled High School. When Martin was 14, both of his parents died within three months of each other. Martin had to take care of himself now so he quit school and went to work.
He found a job working with steel at Washington Iron located in Los Angeles. On December 24, 1941, Martin married the former Ruby Mary Ayon who was born in Fresno, CA, and was the daughter of Daniel Ayon and Rose Marie Silvas. The couple made their home in San Gabriel, CA.
Service Time: Martin entered the service on October 8, 1942, at Los Angeles. He was sent to Camp Hood, Texas, for basic training and then on to Camp Philips, Kansas followed by the Tennessee maneuvers for additional training. He was assigned to A Company of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
The 825th sailed from the New York port on May 30th, 1944, aboard the Queen Elizabeth, arriving in Scotland on June 5th. After an additional 2 months of training, the men and equipment were loaded on LST’s and arrived on Utah Beach in Normandy, France. They were equipped with 3″ towed guns and were initially assigned to the Communications Zone where they performed 12th Army Group security duties between August and December, 1944.
Meanwhile, back home, Martin’s wife Ruby gave birth to a daughter, Diana, while Martin was serving in France.
The battalion entered combat near Malmedy, Belgium, on December, 17th. The next morning, Lieutenant Doherty, commanding the 1st Platoon of A Company, sent his first and second gun squads, commanded by Sergeants John G. Armstrong and Jonas Whaley, with their half-tracks and 3′ guns across the Amblève River bridge at Stavelot. The third and fourth squads, commanded by Sergeants Martin Hauser and Lou Celentano, stayed on the right bank of the river with the aim of protecting the two first squads going up the Old Castle Road.
Meanwhile, the Germans had pulled a tank in a curve and began to shoot, hitting Sgt Armstrong’s unit. Then, SS men used a burp gun to kill him and 5 other men of his crew who were trying to get out of the burning half-track. Sgt. Hauser’s half-track was also destroyed and all the men sought refuge in nearby houses. The armored spearhead of Kampgruppe SS Joachim Peiper came near their goal of establishing a bridgehead across the River Meuse during the Battle of the Bulge. The determined American resistance, among them Sgt. Celentano and Sgt. Hauser, disrupted the German timetable and cost Peiper’s tanks precious time.
Two 76mm antitank guns under Lieutenant Doherty were moved into position at Allée Verte to fire on the German tanks, a distance of about 650 yards. From across the river Sgt. Celentano and Sgt. Hauser’s squads now aimed their guns at the tracks of the enemy tanks, disabling four of them. Sgt. Celentano decided to shoot down more of the buildings because they seemed to be hiding behind them. His gunner, Cpl Roy Ables and Hauser’s, Cpl. Paul Lenzo, managed to stop the first and the last tanks of the column almost immediately. The antitank gun crews continued to load and fire the 76mm shells.
There were many shots fired and Sgt Celentano’s squad hit the turret of a second tank that was pointing its gun towards them. As the enemy armor rolled into Stavelot, a Tiger tank turned on Sgt. Hauser’s position since his squad had moved from Allée Verte towards the Avenue Fredinand Nicolay. The Germans were on one end of the street and the Americans were on the other end. They fired their machine guns and hit the Tiger up on the turret also. The massive tank backed into a building, sending bricks crashing down upon it.
Lt. Doherty was groggy and had injuries to his mouth and legs. His driver, Earl Shugart, had right leg wounds and the driver of the Security Jeep, Sylvio Ferrigno, had some shrapnel wounds to his chest. Lt. Doherty was temporarily unable to command and Staff Sergeant Vester Lowe assumed command of A Company. He ordered his driver, Arthel Gibson, to put Lt. Doherty on the hood of the Jeep, told Sgt. Hauser and Cpl. Lenzo to destroy their gun, using a canister shell, and the rest of the third squad to get on the GMC ammunition truck and to escape to Malmedy.
As the result of this action, six men from 1st Section were killed and two were wounded. All the men of the second section sought refuge in nearby houses. Both Sgt. Celentano and Sgt. Hauser were awarded the Bronze Star for knocking out or disabling four German tanks.
Now back in the U.S., Martin returned to his wife and daughter and went back to his former employer, Washington Iron. The family welcomed a second child, Marty, in 1949. In his spare time, Martin was an avid fan of baseball and served as an usher at the family’s church. The 825th returned to security duties on January, 16. 1945. They received credit for participation in the campaigns of Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. Martin also received the EAME, the Purple Heart, WWII Victory and the American Campaign medals. He left the service at the rank of Sergeant.
Martin passed away on March 5, 2019, at the age of 98. I want to thank his daughter, Diana, for providing information and photos of her father. I also want to thank Mary Hodson and Serge Lemaire for providing additional materials and for their continued work to honor the men of the 825th TD Bn.