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Pfaff, Warren R. (823rd)

Warren R. Pfaff

Biography: Warren Raymond Pfaff was born on January 26, 1917, in Healdsburg, California. He was one of three sons and a daughter born to Louis Pfaff and Edna G. McGrath. He attended local schools in Glen Ellen and Duncan Mills. His draft card, dated October 16, 1940, shows he was living in Sausalito, CA, and working at the Eureka Market.

Service Time: Warren entered the Army on February 3, 1941, at San Francisco, CA. In July of 1942, he was on temporary assignment to The Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Kansas. On the 18th of that month, he was assigned to the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion at Camp Carson, Colorado. He was initially a member of Headquarters Company, but Warren eventually became a Platoon Leader (likely the 2nd Platoon) in the Reconnaissance Company. The 823rd trained at a number of military bases including Camps Bowie and Hood, Texas, and Camp Clairborne, Louisiana, where they were located prior to participating in the Louisiana maneuvers.

The unit boarded trains on March 9, 1944. enroute to Camp Myles Standish, and the Boston port, where they arrived on the 12th to begin their final preparations for the trip overseas. On April 6th, they loaded on the U.S.S. Sea Porpoise and sailed for England, arriving in Newport, Wales, on the 17th after an uneventful trip. After some additional training and a delay, they boarded three LSTs and landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on June 24, 1944. They were equipped with 3″ towed guns and went into action within 24 hours of their arrival. Supporting the drive on St. Lô, they fought at Mortain in August and passed through Belgium and Holland, entering Germany on September 17th. Fighting along the Siegfried Line in October, which included the encirclement of Aachen, the 823rd converted to M10 tank destroyers beginning in November, and shifted to the Ardennes in late December, fighting to eliminate the Bulge in January, 1945. On January 5th, Lt. Pfaff was transferred to the newly reconstituted Reconnaissance Company.

They crossed the Roer River on February 24th. Lt. Pfaff, riding in an assault boat with the infantry, is believed to have been the first American soldier to land on the east bank of the river. Crossing the Rhine River on March 24th, the unit raced eastward to the Elbe River, at Magdeburg, in April and finally began military occupation duties on April 21st. While participating in combat on April 9-10, Lt. Pfaff was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action. His citation reads as follows:

“For gallantry in action from 9 April 1945 to 10 April 1945, in Germany. Lieutenant Pfaff went to reconnoiter an enemy town from which parts of his unit had been driven by intense enemy fire. When he was fired on, he deployed his men and returned the fire, killing four of the enemy and capturing twelve others. Lieutenant Pfaff and his men held the positions they had gained despite being greatly outnumbered by the enemy until support was brought up.”

He also earned EAME medal, with credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe, and the WWII Victory medal. Warren stayed in the Army after WWII and served during the Korean war. He earned a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service while in Korean as a member of Headquarters Company, 64th Tank Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. He left the military on February 27, 1957, at the rank of Major.

Following his release from the Army, he attended the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. He worked for a while in Napa, CA, and later for W.C. Laswell Funeral Directors in Daly City for 15 years. He retired in 1979. He was a member of the Sons of the Golden West, Seapoint Parlor, Sausalito, and a member of the Elks Lodge in Daly City.

Warren passed away on October 4, 1986, and was buried in the Cypress Hill Memorial Park, Petaluma, CA. Thank you to FindaGrave contributor Marion for use of the grave marker photo.