Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroic actions during World War II, died Thursday at the age of 92.
Ehlers, who joined the armed forces in 1940, was the last living Medal of Honor recipient who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day.
He earned his Medal of Honor "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty" on June 9 and 10, 1944, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
During battle near Goville, France, Ehlers went ahead of his men to defend his squad against the enemy. He blocked his men from gunfire and even after he was wounded in the back, carried a rifleman to safety and then returned to the battleground to retrieve his rifle. Ehlers refused to leave his squad after his wound was treated.
“The Germans didn't leave much of me untouched," Ehlers said an interview with WWII Magazine in 2012.
Ehlers also earned three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star during his service with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Infantry Division.
After the war, Ehlers became an advocate for military veteran benefits and proudly worked as a security guard for Disneyland when it opened in California.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Ehlers; three children; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
— Elisha Fieldstadt
Alex Gallardo / REUTERS file
Walter Ehlers, a Medal of Honor recipient who took part in the D-Day invasion of World War II, speaks to Reuters in his home in Buena Park, Calif., on June 2, 2011.
First published February 20 2014, 12:48 PM