Haemmerlie, Henry J. (609th)

Henry J. Haemmerlie 1Henry J. Haemmerlie

Biography: Henry John Haemmerlie was born on July 23, 1914, in Belleville, Wisconsin. He was the son of Henry and Marie Hammerli and graduated from Monroe High School. He began his college education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison but transferred to Colorado State. He was very active in the school’s military programs and was the Cadet Colonel his junior year.  He was also a member of the Scabbard and Blade, Phi Kappa Tau faternity, Forestry Club, and served as President of his Junior Class. He graduated in 1938. While at college, Henry was introduced to his future wife Ruth, by her sister Helen who was also a student at Colorado State.

Service Time: Henry entered the service and was assigned to the 609th Tank Destroyer Battalion. While stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was a 2nd Lieutenant and serving in the command staff of their Pioneer Company. At some point, he was moved into the Headquarters Company. The unit moved to Fort Hood, Texas, and then participated in the Louisiana maneuvers.  They received additional training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and then transferred to Camp Shanks, New York, for final preparations before shipment overseas.

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The photo at left is from the Colorado State yearbook.

The unit shipped out from New York on August 11, 1944, and landed in England on the 22nd. They were quickly processed and loaded on ships for the English Channel crossing. They landed at Utah Beach on September 20, 1944, equipped with M18’s, and went into Corps Reserve, beginning on September 28, east of Moutier, France.  The crews fired artillery missions through October and then joined operations against the Siegfried Line in November and early December. Most of Company C moved to Bastogne, on December 18th, with 10th Armored Division. The remainder of the battalion fought along the Sauer River. The entire battalion fought to eliminate the Bulge in January, 1945. They were then deployed to the Saar-Moselle triangle in February and participated in the capture of Trier in March. The unit supported the attack south and east out of the Mannheim bridgehead, across the Rhine, in late March and April and reached southern Bavaria, near Füssen, by the end of the month.

The unit received credit for campaigns in Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. They also received the Distinguished Unit Citation. Henry received the Bronze Star for his service. He left the service at the rank of Captain.

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Henry returned to the U.S. and went to work for the American Lumber and Treating Company, which was later sold to the Koppers Corporation. Henry worked in their Gainesville plant as an Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent. On September 25, 1945, Henry married Ruth Elizabeth Collins who was born in Grand Junction, Colorado. She was the daughter of David and Hazel Pearce Collins. The new couple had three children, John, born in 1946, Frances “Dee” in 1948 and Mary in 1949. The family lived in Gainesville, Florida, until Henry’s retirement in 1981, when Henry and Ruth moved to Live Oak in Northern Florida. The photo shows Henry and Ruth in 1990. They moved to Lakeland, Florida in 1997, to be near Mary and her family.

In his spare time, he enjoyed gardening, wood working and spending time with his family. Henry passed away on January 5, 2000, and was buried in the Oak Hill Burial Park in Lakeland, Florida. I want to thank Henry’s daughter, Dee, for providing the information and photos for this tribute. The photo from the Colorado State yearbook is used by permission, of Digital Data Online, Inc. and E-Yearbook.com