Medals and Badges 1st/Lt. Lettera earned
Alfred P. Lettera was from Kingston County, New York. 1st/Lt. Lettera was awarded the American Defense Medal. That medal was awarded to personnel for active duty service from 8 September 1939 to 7 December 1941 for a period of twelve months or longer. This means that he was in the Army already before WWII. Incase Alfred Lettera was already a member of the 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division from the beginning of his army carreer he served and trained in the following camps:
Fort Jackson – pre-September 1942
Camp Forrest, Tennessee – September 1942
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri – December 1942
Camp Lagoona, Arizona – March 1943
Camp Shelby, Mississippi –July/August 1943
Camp Forrest, Tennessee – September 1943
Camp Kilmer, New Jersey – November 1943
New York Harbor – December 5, 1943
Northern Ireland – December 15, 1943
Alfred Lettera started the war with the rank of Sergeant. The 28th Infantry Regiment distinguished itself in combat after landing on Utah Beach on July 4, 1944. Its first action was an attack to the south to establish a critical bridgehead over the Ay River so that armored divisions could launch a breakout and then attack into Brittany and Northern France. The Regiment then advanced south through Avranches and Rennes and turned west into Brittany. It participated in the savage battle for Brest and then fought on the Crozon Peninsula.
In late September, 1944 the 28th Infantry Regiment moved to Luxembourg and assumed its sector of the 8th Infantry Division front which stretched along the Our River. In mid-November, the Regiment relieved elements of the 109th Infantry in the area southeast of Aachen.
The next several weeks were spent attacking through the dense, forbidding Huertgen Forest, where deep mud, bitter cold, snow, enemy artillery and mines, and fierce enemy resistance caused numerous casualties in the worst fighting the Regiment was to experience. Sgt. Lettera received twice a Battlefield Promotion; it is likely that he received one of them during the heavy fighting in the Huertgen Forest, as a lot of enlisted men and officers died there and they had to be replaced very quickly. So probably Alfred Lettera had now the rank of (Second) Lieutenant.
Lt. Alfred P. Lettera
During the remainder of January and February the Regiment continued it’s holding mission along the west bank of the Roer River. Units improved their defenses with additional mine fields, barbed wire and Anti-Tank obstacles. There was little enemy activity. German patrols, usually 5 or 6 mens operated intermittently along in the Regimental zone. Patrol activity, however was mostly of a defensive nature. The enemy attempted to obtain American prisoners in an effort to learn Allied intentions in this area. Occasionally small enemy groups harassed the Regiment by cutting communication wires. One large patrol was driven off in the Bergstein area. For Enemy mortar and artillery fire throughout the period was light. There was little air activity. Smoke was used by the Germans on several occasions, probably to cover relief of troops. Very few prisoners were taken during the month of January. Snow capes were made for the men, many were improvised from sheets requisitioned from German civilians and sewed by German women from the nearby towns. Some vehicles were painted white.
On February 5, 1945, the Division was transferred to the VII Corps, First Army. By February 8, 1945 all units of the Regiment had been relieved and had taken up new positions in the area formerly held by the 104th Division at Lendersdorf opposite Niederau. Along the entire west bank of the Roer River, from Linnich to Bergstein, Infantry and Armored Divisions of the First and Ninth Armies were poised to assault the major water barrier West of the Rhine. The Germans had blown the sluice gates of the Schwammenauel Dam containing the bulk of the headwaters of the Roer and which had been the primary objective of most allied offensive action in this sector. The normally placid, knee deep Roer River rose to a depth of more than 10 feet in the Duren area.
The Regiment successfully conducted an assault crossing of the flood-swollen Roer River on February 23, 1945. It then seized the town of Stockheim where the German resistance was very heavy. The 28th Infantry Regiment continued the attack, seizing dozens of strongly defended enemy towns, until it reached the Rhine River.
Crossing of the Roer River
On April 5, the Regiment was relieved by the 310th Infantry Regiment, 78th Division and in turn relieved the 8th Reconnaissance Troops and elements of the 121st Infantry on the right flank of the Division sector. That in preparation for a full offensive to be opened on April 6, 1945.
The coordinated campaign to destroy or capture enemy forces trapped in the Ruhr-Sieg pocket began on the morning of April 6. From the north, units of the Ninth U.S. Army were to apply pressure against the enemy in the heavy industrial area of the Ruhr River. All along the southern rim of the pocket, units of the First U.S. Army were to drive north from the Sieg River. Other First Army units, driving deep into central Germany, had effectively sealed off the enemy pocket from the east.
Major General Ridgeway’s XVIII Corps (Airborne), consisting of the 8th, 78th, and 86th Infantry Divisions and the 13th Armored Division, was to make the main effort, driving swiftly northwest to cut the pocket in two. The 78th Division, on the left, and the 8th Division were to begin the Corps assault.
With all three Regiments abreast, the 8th Division began it’s attack at 06.00 Hours on April 6. The 28th Infantry Regiment had not fully completed it’s shift in position at the time of the attack. The 3rd Battalion, which had gone into the line during the preceding night, jumped off at 03.00 Hours and cleared the town of Erndtebruck by early afternoon. One tiger tank and two other armored vehicles were destroyed. The Battalion continued it’s advance taking Birkelbach after a brisk fight. The 2nd Battalion joined the 3rd in the attack, advancing approximately three miles. Substantial gains were made on April 8, the Regiment gained over 10,000 yards during the day. The 1st Battalion reaching Wirdlinghausen, and the 2nd entering Rinske.
On April 9, 1945, the 86th Division passed through the 28th Infantry Regiment and went into the attack on the Division right flank. The Regiment was given the mission of protecting the Division left flank, since advances during the day had placed the Division in advance of adjacent units.
Medics carry wounded GI
On April 11, the 28th Infantry Regiment passed through the 13th Infantry Regiment, and the rapid advance continued. Principal resistance encountered was from enemy 20mm anti-aircraft guns which were being used as flat trajectory weapons. Gains of over ten miles were made and 2,200 prisoners were captured. Among the larger towns taken during the day were Meinerzhagen, Kierspe, and Beckinghausen.
Advances up to 10 miles were made on each of the following two days. Enemy forces were thoroughly disorganized and offered very little resistance. In a tunnel, troops discovered three carloads of ammunition, six railroad guns, and two locomotives with steam up. So effectively had Allied fighter planes taken command of the air than trains did not dare move during the daylight hours. Upon reaching the industrial section north and west of Schwelm, enemy resistance suddenly became very heavy. The enemy defense consisted of four tanks, five selfpropelled guns, and a number of panzerfausts. Crossroads were defended with heavy small arms fire and automatic fire. In the town much sniper fire was received. Despite the strong opposition, Schwelm, Mislpe, Vorde, and smaller towns were cleared and over 2,000 prisoners were taken.
Somewhere during the day of April 12, 1945 First Lieutenant Alfred P. Lettera was Killed in Action while saving 2 other soldiers. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for this action. In his Army career 1st/Lt. Lettera was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Heroism in Action and the Good Conduct Medal. Besides his decorations he received twice a Battlefield Promotion; first from Sergeant to 2nd/Lt. and from 2nd/Lt. to 1st/Lt.
The adoptant of First Lieutenant Alfred P. Lettera’s grave, Petra Possen, is searching for more information about First Lieutenant Alfred P. Lettera. Every kind of information is more than welcome. You can contact Petra at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For another storie of a soldier adopted by Mrs. Petra Possen:
Pfc. William O. Chadwick, Jr