Under the direction of Gen. George Patton in World War II, Cpl. Michael Uram and the rest of the Army's 4th Armored Division helped liberate France, relieved the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, fought their way into Germany and were engaged in all five campaigns in the European Theater of Operations.
Uram, 95, of Lyndora suffered an artillery wound to his right hand, but survived it all.
A Purple Heart and seven Bronze Stars — five for combat and two for valor — are among the many commendations Uram received for his service from 1942 to 1945.
What might have been his only unsuccessful mission took place after the war ended in Europe.
He and his company were in Germany not far from Czechoslovakia when the Germans surrendered.
His parents, Ava and Wallace, were Czechoslovakian natives. Two of their three children were born there before the family moved to the United States. Their oldest daughter, Julie, remained in Czechoslovakia.
Uram said he encountered someone in a German prisoner of war camp who knew Julie and told him where she lived.
He attempted to visit her, but was stopped a stone's throw away at a checkpoint manned by Russian military.
“I got within 15 miles of her in Czechoslovakia. I got to see and meet some of her friends. The Russians stopped me from going further,” recalled Uram, who is one of ten World War II veterans living in the Sgt. Joseph George Kusick Community Living Center at VA Butler Healthcare in Butler Township.
“The guys that didn't come back — I remember them,” Uram said.
Only half of his 40-man company made it home and 6,000 men in his division were killed or captured.
Uram was a 21-year-old draftee when his division came ashore in the second wave of the allied landing at Normandy about a week after D-Day.
“Gen. Patton was my commander all the way from Normandy to Czechoslovakia,” Uram said.
He has difficulty telling some of the stories about his service in the war, but his daughter Donna Mores and son Robert, a Vietnam veteran, remember them well.
“It was minus 6 degrees,” Mores said, about her dad's march across Europe with Patton's troops in December 1944.
Her father and his comrades stuffed paper inside their boots in an effort to keep their feet warm, she said.
He has traveled to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., marched in many local parades, and is the last living charter member of American Legion Post 778 in Lyndora, she said.
“I lived to tell the story. I'm a survivor, not a hero,” Uram said.
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