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Tim M.
Republican PA 18

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  • Recognition of Wayne Alderson

    by Representative Tim Murphy

    Posted on 2013-02-26

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    MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Today, we honor the memory of Private First Class Wayne Alderson of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, a World War II hero awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart for his courageous actions during the Rhineland Campaign of 1945. PFC Alderson died on February 22, 2013.

    At 86, Wayne was a member of our Greatest Generation and a great American. This son of southwestern Pennsylvania lived a life of purpose and sacrifice, and remains an inspiration to those who knew him.

    Born on June 7, 1926, Wayne Alderson entered the United States Army as an 18-year-old on August 31, 1944. His service would help bring Nazism to its knees, and PFC Alderson would become the first American soldier to advance into Germany across the forbidding, tank-protected Siegfried line on March 15, 1945.

    In the course of this assault, PFC Alderson, serving as a scout for B Company, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, would single- handedly destroy two machine gun emplacements, attack pockets of German snipers, and fight house-to-house at night before capturing and taking three German prisoners. At considerable personal risk, he led the prisoners back to headquarters, where vital information was obtained by the Allies about the Siegfried line defenses.

    Then, on March 18, in Rieschweiler, Germany, the 18-year-old private would lead a new assault against enemy forces. His company pierced the German line but was cut off by enemy soldiers. Fearing the Germans were about to launch a counterattack that would wipe out his men, PFC Alderson and two other soldiers volunteered to lead a surprise assault and disappeared down a long zigzag spider trench behind a dense warren of fortifications.

    {time} 1020 The assault would ultimately help melt German defenses along the Siegfried line and leave PFC Alderson's face permanently scarred, carrying the shrapnel of a bitter, closed-quarters firefight. The small and vulnerable patrol engaged the larger German force in combat at point-blank range. PFC Alderson, fully exposed and vastly outnumbered, charged with his men, inflicting 12 casualties on the advancing enemy.

    With the Germans now in retreat, Wayne was seriously injured when a grenade exploded at his feet, blasting shrapnel and debris into his face. Wayne crashed face first into the mud from the blow. One of his fellow soldiers attempted to flip him over to prevent him from suffocating to death. A sniper took that soldier's life.

    The shooting over, PFC Alderson, suffering from a head wound, crawled back through the trenches to brief his company commander on the events that had just transpired. The company commander later surveyed the battle scene and determined the three men had killed at least 35 German soldiers.

    Wayne was discharged from service on October 6, 1945, with the rank of private first class.

    Wayne's leadership continued after the war. He helped resolve a conflict between labor and management at Pittron Steel, retold in the book ``Stronger than Steel,'' a dispute that threatened to shutter the company but instead saved jobs and changed Pittron's corporate culture.

    Fittingly, after this episode, Wayne went on to found a consulting firm called Value of the Person, which he ran for the last 40 years. Value of the Person grew out of Wayne Alderson's unique theory of management, stressing the importance of respect and responsibility between management and its workers--commonsense ideas that too often can become lost in the hum of modern life. These ideas became the basis of a book co-written with his daughter, ``Theory R Management,'' in 1994.

    On May 20, 2007, I had the privilege of presenting Wayne Alderson, the hero of the Rhineland campaign, with the Silver Star when he was inducted into the veterans memorial Hall of Valor.

    PFC Alderson is survived by his wife, Nancy, of 60 years; sisters, Lillie Shannon and Jeanne Alderson of Canonsburg; daughter, Nancy McDonnell; and a grandson, Patrick Wayne McDonnell.

    Wayne Alderson always put his country first. Now it is time for PFC Alderson's country to recognize his bravery and place him among the first rank of those Americans who helped liberate Europe and beat back the twin scourges of fascism and Nazism. It is in this spirit that we recognize Wayne Alderson today.

    The way Wayne lived his life with continued selfless courage and determination gave Americans a true hero to mentor the next generation. Indeed, Wayne Alderson's influence will have a lasting impact on that next generation. And through that, he lives on.

    On behalf of a grateful Nation, we thank Wayne Alderson for his service and his life for his country.


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