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WW II vet will get Purple Heart in National Guard ceremony

Posted June 21, 2008
Updated June 22, 2008

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— More than six decades after a 20-year-old machine-gunner from North Carolina was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in snowy Belgium, he will receive the Purple Heart in a ceremony arranged by his former, and his son-in-law's current, Army National Guard unit.

Paul Henry Hoffman Sr., now 83, of Rockingham, was Pfc. Hoffman and a heavy machine-gunner in what was then the 30th Infantry Division, "Old Hickory," during one of the most famous battles fought in Europe in World War II.

The 30th Infantry was a forerunner of what is now the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the North Carolina National Guard. The 30th's shoulder patch today comprises the Roman numeral for 30, XXX, and the letters "OH" for the division's North Carolina nickname.

Hoffman's son-in-law, Staff Sgt. Daniel Russ, is assigned to the 30th's 120th Combined Arms Battalion, D Company, headquartered at the National Guard Armory in Elizabethtown, a National Guard spokesman said Saturday.

The ceremony had been planned for Sunday, but it had to be rescheduled because Hoffman was ill, the Guard said. The new date had not been set Sunday.

During the bitter Christmastime battle in 1944 and '45, Hoffman was in what was then the 120th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division.

Hoffman was wounded once and treated at an aid station and then returned to the front, Guard Maj. Matthew Handley said. He was wounded a second time. Paperwork noting his action and injuries disappeared in the chaos of war and heavy fighting, however.

Handley said Diane Hoffman Russ, the machine-gunner's daughter, worked through various officials to pull together the records needed to have her father awarded the Purple Heart and other medals.


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