Biography: George Holb was born on October 15, 1919, in Youngstown, Ohio. He was the son of George Ficko and Teresa Huth and had 4 siblings, John, Mary, Teresa and Arlene. The family soon moved to Akron, OH, where their father passed away from pneumonia around 1926. George attended local schools in Akron through the 10th grade.
On June 15, 1940, he married Pauline Nolan and the couple had three children, Patricia, born in 1941, Linda, in 1942 and Donna in 1944. The marriage ended on December 3, 1952. Starting in 1942, George was employed by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., repairing bullet proof fuel tanks. His brother, John, was killed in a car wreck in April, 1943.
Service Time: George entered the Army March 7, 1944, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He went through basic infantryman training at Fort Blanding, Florida, from March 20 to July 15, 1944. His unit was in England by August and before long, a lieutenant walked up to several men, including George, and said “You, you and you come with me”. Within a few weeks, he was in the 3rd Platoon, Company C of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, and serving as a crewman in an M18 tank destroyer. His crew members were John T. Downey “Tom”, driver, and Pat, Mac and Roiko.
They began combat along the Moselle River in early September and supported operations against Metz, France, in November. In late November, Company C was attached to the 6th Cavalry Group, becoming part of Task Force Fickett, for what was to be a long standing arrangement. On December 1, TF Fickett began an attack southwest of Saarbrucken, driving toward the Saar River. By the 8th, they were relieving elements of the 5th Infantry Division along the river. On the 15th and 16th, Company C is credited with destroying three German locomotives. From the 28th – 30th , they were moved to the southern shoulder of the “Bulge”, and attached to the 4th Armored Division where they were tasked with maintaining the flanks and contact with adjacent units during the 4th ’s drive north to relieve Bastogne.
In early January, 1945, they attacked into the southwest corner of the Harlange Pocket, Belgium, eventually contacting units of the 90th Infantry Division. For their actions in this battle, Company C was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. In February, they continued to move east and made an assault across the Our River in the areas of Keppeshausen and Viandan. At the end of the month, they crossed the Prum River and fought their way across the Nims River at Lasel, Germany, in early March. On the 5th, VIII Corps ordered the TF north to maintain contact with First Army and protect the corps’ northern flank. By the 11th, both Companies C and B had returned to battalion control and the unit was attached to the 89th ID. They crossed the Rhine River at Boppard, Germany, and on April 4, Company C TD’s were instrumental in the liberating of the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp, a sub-camp of the the infamous Buchenwald Concentration Camp. The 602nd continued driving eastward, reaching Zwickaw by mid-April, and remaining in the area until VE day.
The above photo shows George in a German officers hat, and the one below shows him with his children in the early 70’s.
The 602nd was credited with the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Germany. On Sept. 10, George was transferred to Company C of the 607th TD Battalion. He remained in Europe on occupation duty until returning to the U.S. with the unit aboard the USAT George Washington, arriving in New York City on October 26th. George was soon discharged at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 30, 1945, and left the service at the rank of Pfc.
Post-service Time: George returned to Akron and resumed his job at Goodyear, working there for 33 years. He remarried in 1954, to Gertrude Prekop, and they had three children, George, born in 1955, Aaron in 1956 and Regina in 1964. In his spare time, he enjoyed sketching people as characters, painting, fly fishing, and pheasant and rabbit hunting. George unexpectedly passed away at the age of 55 on May 27, 1975, and was buried at the Northlawn Memorial Gardens, Peninsula, Ohio.
Twenty years after George’s passing, his sister Teresa passed away and at the funeral his dog tags and a crucifix were given to his son, Aaron. The story of the crucifix was that Company C had been in combat taking a town when, upon entering the town, George saw a priest wounded and bleeding badly from his leg. He immediately applied a tourniquet to his leg and called for a medic. The priest lived and gave George the crucifix and told him it would “keep you safe”.
We would like to thank George’s son, Aaron, for providing the photos and information used in this tribute.