Harold Dann was one of those individuals from “The Greatest Generation” who did what he had to do when duty called. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school in 1943 and as a teenager spent 200 days in combat in the European Theater of Operations.
Corporal Dann was a member of the 104th Infantry Division also known as the “Terry Allen Timberwolves” and arrived in Europe in late 1944. Like many, he thought it was going to be a short stay thanks to the Allies’ success since D-Day on June 6, 1944. It was November and Germany was the next stop. That was before the massive German counterattack known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 104th was the first American Unit to be specifically trained for nighttime combat. He fought in the Hurtgen Forest and his unit was evacuated from Malmedy one day before the Germans slaughtered 84 American GI prisoners of war.
A lot of what Hal Dann went through is a little blurry these days, but one memory lasts. Members of his unit drew straws to see who would go see the Marlene Dietrich USO Show not far from the front lines. His picture appeared in Life Magazine while he was watching that show.
All members of the “Timberwolves” were eligible for the Bronze Star for valor. Somehow, in the confusion that followed the war in Europe, Hal Dann got missed. Late in 2008, the Ottawa County Veterans Service Office set out to identify local military personnel who had inadvertently been missed after the war was over in Europe and were sent back home. On Tuesday afternoon, in a ceremony at Edgewood Manor, that situation was rectified. 67 years after spending 200 consecutive days in a combat zone, surviving mortar fire, artillery fire and fire fights in frigid Belgium in late 1944 and early 1945, Hal Dann was finally awarded his Bronze Star. It was awarded by Lt. Col. Barbara Herrington Clemens in a special Veterans Day ceremony at Edgewood Manor.
Others receiving recognition on Tuesday were Bernie Huebner, Lowell S. Petersen, David Tong, Paul Krofft, all veterans of World War II.