Victor Osburn Bridge Dedication

Over Memorial Day Weekend members of the 509th WWII Parachute Infantry Battalion Living History Group were invited by the family of Victor Osburn to participate in a dedication ceremony for the “US Army T-5 Victor A. Osburn Memorial Bridge” in Ellamore, West Virginia over Memorial Day. Osburn was a medic with the 509th PIB from 1943-1944. He was killed in combat during Operation Dragoon and awarded his second Purple Heart and a Silver Star for his final actions. Part of his Silver Star citation reads:

“During the afternoon he located three wounded men who lay amoung the rocks exposed to sniper and shell fire. He treated these wounded men and removed them to a place of safety. Then, despite repeated please from his comrades to be more careful, he attempted to aid another wounded soldier and in so doing was himself mortally wounded.”

Dressed in ’42 jumpsuits and combat gear reenactors spent the morning and early afternoon with members of Victor’s family. Pictures were also taken at Victor’s gravesite. For the ceremony we joined a 1-509 honor guard from Fort Polk, LA, a local VFW honor guard, area dignitaries, family, and the public in honoring the life and sacrifice of T-5 Osburn.

As part of the ceremony several of us performed a reading consisting of letters Victor had written home and journal entries by battalion surgeon Carlos “Doc” Alden. Victor’s letters were non-descript and almost dull to keep friends and family back home at ease.

“November 25, 1943 – We are having a lot of rain over here. It rained all day on Thanksgiving. We had turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. But it wasn’t much on the account of where we had it. Well there isn’t any news so I will close for this time. Your Brother, Victor.”

Doc Alden’s journals were more telling:

“November 26, 1943 – Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. Thanks for being alive … All hell was breaking loose up at Company D, on the left flank and crest … Several casualties came in… (We) tagged (our dead) and wandered about our positions. We could hear the Germans digging in 25-30 yards away …”

Doc Alden also talks of the close relationship between the Officers and Enlisted men of the 509, a precursor to modern day Special Forces units.

“…Stanley is making fudge – Junior is cleaning his German rifle – Pat’s looking for bread and cereal – Mull laughing … (Victor is) cutting the top out of a can to heat some water for shaving … Me – writing here at the desk – innocuous – the boys know me well – and I’m one of them … They’re a good bunch … It’s a crime that I cannot promote these men as they deserve…”

The Bridge will stand as a remembrance to a true hero, who gave his life while saving the life of others.

Rest in peace Victor. All the way.

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See More:
News report from WBOY – Channel 12
News report from WDTV – Channel 5
See more photos on FaceBook

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