Vieira, Lionel C. (825th)

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Biography:  Lionel C. Vieira, “Danny”, was born on November 29, 1921, in Fall River, Massachusetts. He was the son of Manuel Cambra Vieira and Maria Esabel Rodrigues-Cabral and attended one year of high school. His enlistment record indicates he was working in the production of rubber goods prior to the war.

Service Time:  Danny entered the service on September 16, 1942, at Boston, Massachusetts. After his basic training, he was assigned to Company A of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them at a number of military facilities within the U.S.

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 two months of training, the men and equipment were loaded on a LST (Landing Ship Tank) and arrived on Utah Beach in Normandy, France in July 30th. They were equipped with 3-inch towed anti-tank guns and were initially assigned to the Communications Zone where they performed 12th Army Group security duties between August and December, 1944.

The battalion was alerted by Headquarters 12th Army Group and entered combat on December 17th. Orders were received from the Task Force Hansen Commander stating that General Courtney Hodges, of the First Army, directed the unit to Malmedy, Belgium, with the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate-Norwegian speaking Americans). When the battalion arrived in Malmedy on December 18th, Captain Joseph H. Dibert immediately sent First Platoon of Company A to Stavelot. The Second and Third Platoons remained in Malmedy.

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On December 21st, Danny fought with the 99th Infantry Battalion, and elements of Company K, 120th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division, against the SS Panzer Brigade 150, under the command of Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny. Although not confirmed, it is believed that Danny was under command of 1st Lieutenant Orin C. Harper, leading the Second Platoon of the Battalion. Based on information on the map, they set up their gun positions on the edge of the town. When daylight came they moved their guns to more advantageous positions and each time the Germans tried to break out to the South, they were repulsed and eventually they expanded their penetration straight ahead.

The outposts were the first to learn that the Germans were outfitting some English-speaking special troops in American uniforms with captured American vehicles. Four such Germans in a Jeep tried to bluff their way past the outpost using two captured GIs riding on the front fenders. But, the GI’s peeled off into the ditch and hollered, “Shoot, they’re Germans”. They did, killing one and the other three surrendered.

Lionel C. Vieira 6During the first three weeks of the Battle of the Bulge the Medics kept a ‘liberated’ washtub with a fire box built underneath to heat the wash water. Each day, Danny had to find time to come to the Medics, soak his feet in the warm water and then get a clean dry pair of socks. As this daily exercise was completed, Danny’s name was crossed off the roster, assuring his compliance with the procedure and no frostbite. 

Danny and the two Platoons held their positions until January and then moved further toward the front line located in Stavelot, where the First Platoon had fought against the 1st SS Panzer Korps on December 18th. After 4 weeks, on January 17, 1945, the 106th Infantry Division and elements of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team (PRCT) advanced through their lines and effectively relieved them of the responsibilities of holding the road network.

Danny had done his duty and accomplished his mission quite well. His actions helped the unit receive credit for the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. Danny was awarded the Bronze Star and received the Purple Heart in recognition of the wounds he sustained. He was also awarded the British Military Medal, which is awarded to non-commissioned soldiers of British and allied forces that have shown “Bravery in the Field”, which is inscribed on the reverse of the medal. He left the service at the rank of Sergeant.

Lionel C. Vieira 4After returning to the U.S., he initially worked in plastics manufacturing and precision molding. On April 24, 1947, he married the former Beatrice Leonardo who was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, and was the daughter of Manuel Leonardo and Maria Ojane Farias. The new couple would make their home in Dighton, MA. In his spare time Lionel enjoyed wood working and home repair. Before retiring in 1983, he was a Group Leader at Haskon Manufacturing.

Danny and Beatrice had three children, Mary Ellen, born in 1951, John in 1953 and Lionel, ‘’Dan’’, in 1949, who would go on to serve during the Vietnam war. Danny passed away on August 16, 2007, and was buried in the Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in Fall River, MA.

I want to thank the Vieira family for providing the photos and information used in this tribute. Thank you also to Serge Lemaire for his continued research into the men of the 825th.

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