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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Evans Lee Huffstetler

Serving under the 5th Division of Patton's 3rd Army

Evans standing with his platoon

5th from left on the second row.

Evans (kneeling 2nd from right)

special training with his buddies in Iceland. 

Evans in Iceland with his squad leader.

Evans enjoying some free time

while waiting on his orders.

Evans in Ireland

Evans in France

Medals (L to R - back row): Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (L to R - middle row) Infantry Badge, Honorable Service (L to R - bottom row) European African Middle Eastern Campaign with Silver Star, Efficiency Honor Fidelity, Army Occupation of Germany, World War II Campaign

Evans Lee Huffstetler in 1957

Cathia married Evans after he was discharged - 

she is pictured here in 1957.

The Huffstetler Family 1964 (L to R):  Charles "Eddie" age 10, Tom age 11, Mickey, age 18 holding Tressa, 23 months, mother, Cathia, Dan age 14, Keta age 12

Huffstetler family back row L to R: Eddie, Tom, Dan 

front row L to R: Tressa, Keta, Mickey

Tom in Munich, Germany - 1973

Charles "Eddie" Huffstetler 1992

Eddie took the same occupation as his dad and

 joined the Ironworkers Association in March 1973

Evans Lee Huffstetler's story - submitted by his son Charles Edwin "Eddie" Huffstetler

Evans Lee Huffstetler was born in 1921 and enlisted in the Army the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 8, 1941.  He and other volunteers had to wait for an opening in basic training. The first available opportunity was at Camp Croft, South Carolina where he was sent on September 5, 1942.  

Evans’s son Eddie recalled talking to his dad about those military days and several close calls when under heavy enemy fire. 

"Dad was an excellent swimmer. He had mastered swimming in the Catawba River as a young boy, which proved invaluable when he swam for his life across the Moselle River. His athletic prowess and endurance were pivotal as he repeatedly crossed the river, ensuring the safety of his fellow soldiers on the other side.  He told me how the cries for help and prayers of dying soldiers upset him in such a manner that he never gave it a second thought.  He kept returning to rescue those in need and brought them to safety.  He reassured them in a calm voice, saying, "I've got you, soldier, I’ve got you" and told them not to worry.”

It was risky with the heavy artillery and the danger of drowning.  Evans received a silver star for bringing his wounded comrades to safety.

Evans visited eight countries during his two-and-a-half years overseas. He received training in Iceland and Ireland for extreme cold-weather combat. His first experience in a battle zone abroad was at the Omaha Beaches in the aftermath of Normandy. He also traveled to England and Germany. While in Luxembourg, he was wounded by mortar fire while seeking cover. This injury was awarded with a Purple Heart, and he received the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge.  His last stops included visits to Austria and Czechoslovakia.  He was in Prague when peace was declared.

News reports published in March 1945 describe the crossing of the Rhine and the surprise attack on the Germans. Evans and his fellow infantrymen bravely charged a nest of gunners and eliminated enemy positions, leading the Nazis to surrender.

After leaving the military, Evans was prepared to establish roots, get married, and start a family. He dedicated the rest of his days to assisting those in need. Evans held a position at an ironworker’s union and contributed to the construction of the Twin Towers in New York.

Two of the Huffstetler boys also joined the military. Dan joined the Navy and served on the USS Lyman K. Swenson. This ship performed several naval gunfire support missions off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam, served as a Search and Rescue picket escort, and escorted aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Tom enlisted in the Army and served honorably as a Specialist 4th Class in Germany from 1971 to 1975.

Eddie followed in his father’s footsteps working with the International Ironworkers Association.  He began an apprenticeship program in March of 1973. He traveled with his father on many jobs where he had conversations about things that happened during WWII.   After his father’s death, Eddie moved to Wilkes County, where he had visited many times to camp and fish.