HERBERT SIMONDS: VETERAN HIGHLIGHT
By Christine Baldwin
Herbert was born in 1921 in Boston, MA, but moved to California at an early age. He was working in a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp in 1939, when he decided to join the Army at the age of 18 at San Diego, CA. Herbert’s first assignment was at Fort Lewis, WA in the 3rd Infantry Division, 39th Field Artillery Battalion. A short time later, his brother, George also joined. Though they were in the same battalion, the brothers worked in separate batteries. In 2 ½ years, the 3rd saw ten major battles overseas to include parts of Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Herbert’s main job was to radio in the Artillery Forward Observer’s information to the Lieutenant in charge. In 1944, at Anzio, Italy, Herbert and George were together, when a shell hit about eight feet away from them. Fortunately, it was a dud. They both lay in a foxhole and “sweated the rest of ‘em out.” One highlight that Herbert had was personally observing the famous Audie Murphy in action. Herbert mentioned this to their Lt. Weispfenning and it was the Lieutenant that put Murphy in for the Congressional Medal of Honor.
After World War 2, Herbert reenlisted in the Air Force and became an instructor in electronics and ground communication. He retired as a Master Sergeant in 1970 after 21 years service, but worked another ten years as a civilian in the same job. Honors received included the French Croix de Guerre, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Ten Service Stars, and the Air Force Accommodation Medal.
Originally, Herbert came to the “Soldier’s Home” in 1991, but then moved to Florida to enjoy golfing. He came back in 2005 and then in 2012. “I’m here to stay”, said Herbert.