Herman William Ohme
West Point, 1930
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Herman Wilhelm Ohme Jr. on April 21, 2003:
Colonel Herman W. Ohme (Herm to his friends)was born in Alexander City, Alabama on March 31, 1907 to Bruno Max and Sue Moon Ohme. The only boy in a family of five girls, he early acquired those qualities of responcibility and leadership, upheld by a strong bond of family loyalty and affection, which impressed all who knew him. His warm personality and good sportsmanship were reflected in the high popularity that followed him through his school days and into his successful Army career.
As a youngster Herm was deeply involved in the Boy Scouts, and he achieved the rank and honor of Eagle Scout. He was Captain of his varsity high school football team and president of his class. A first rate student as well as a top ranking high school athlete.
Herm was appointed to West Point in 1926. He immediately went out for the West Point football team but his hopes of playing for the USMA were dashed early because of a knee injury incurred during training.
Cadet Ohme graduated from the United States Military Academy in the Class of 1930. Herm's first assignment was Ft. Benning, Georgia. In 1933 he was stationed to a tour of duty at Ft. Mckinley in the Phillipines. That's when he met and married Martha Charlton Field, daughter of Colonel Edgar Lee Field of the Inspector General's Department at Ft. Mckinley. The years prior to the outbreak of WWII, Herm was stationed to Ft. Screven, GA, and Ft. Sam Houston, TX .
Major Herman Ohme's first wartime assignment was in the Mediterranean area where he served first in Libya, he then served with the 85th Infantry in Italy, where his courage and skill earned the Bronze Star and duty in G-3 on General Mark Clark's staff:
On October 3, 1944, Herm was given command of the 3rd Battalion, 351st Regiment, 88th Infantry, under Brigadier General Paul W. Kendall. Herm took command of his front line battalion during some of the bitterest days of the long and fierce Italian campaign. The Germans were heavily entrenched in the hills around Florence, and Herm's battalion was ordered to attack and clear out the entrenched German troops.
Colonel Herman Ohme was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry, devotion to duty, and his brilliant aggressive leadership during the few days leading up to his death.
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The Silver Star Citation
speaks for itself:
"Although entirely unfamiliar with his officers and men, Colonel Ohme immediately began to display aggressive leadership, ability, and tenacity of purpose that will seldom be equalled. Finding his battalion held up by heavy machine gun fire and snipers, and a relentless artillery and mortar barrage, Colonel Ohme at once took steps to move the battalion to it's objective. So thorough was his planning, so aggressive his tactics and so inspiring Ohme's leadership that a short time later the battalion seized it's objective."
"Again, on October 11, 1944, the outstanding and heroic leadership of Colonel Ohme was exhibited. Ordered to take a certain town, the Third Battalion was fighting bitterly against fanatical enemy resistance. Colonel Ohme, from an exposed observation post, directed artillery and tank fire. Inspired by the example of their gallant commander, the Battalion succeeded in crushing the entrenched German resistance and taking the town and high ground beyond. Colonel Ohme immediately set up his command post on high ground where he had excellent observation of the enemy and could direct tank and artillery fire."
"Although continually under attillery fire self propelled gun and mortar fire in this position, Colonel Ohme realized the importance of the fire he was directing. At great risk, he remained in position until four of his men had been killed at his side. Only then, did he move to a new position and once again began directing fire from the edge of his fox hole. Devotedly engaged in this action, an enemy artillery shell made a direct hit and killed Colonel Ohme instantly. The gallantry and devotion to duty that Colonel Ohme displayed injected new life into his battle-weary officers and men and quickly won their admiration and esteem. Although his combat activities were short-lived, his bold and gallant determination to anihilate the enemy reflects honor on our armed forces, and a credit to his memory."
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One of Herm's closest friends, writing to his wife afterwards, said,
"He went out just as he would have wanted it - in battle, with his first love, The Infantry". "He was about the best soldier I have ever known. He always told me he wanted to command a battalion in combat, and we both always said we wanted to go fighting..."
Herm was buried near where he died at Castel Florentino, south of
He died, as all who had known Herm knew he would, with honor, courage, and single-minded devotion to the country he loved and served.
To the fine traits of soldiering which he brought to his chosen profession there were however qualities of manhood which made him standout as a human being of exceptional stature. All who ever had the priviledge of knowing Herman felt him to be a person of sincerity, honesty, forth-rightness, and moral strength:
Herm's chaplain wrote of him,"Knowing Herman was one of the good things in my life".
To Herman life was a serious challenge and success in it not to be
A few weeks before Herm died he wrote a letter to his
two small sons.
As if Herm had known he would not be around to help guide them through their young years, he wrote out for them a small testament of his philosophy and a guide of conduct which in it's way must rank with the finest and most inspiring messages ever left behind by a father to his sons. It also epitomizes the ideals by which Herm himself lived. As a heritage to his sons, this should serve them as a deep source of strength and pride. "Remember, you are looking for a happy and worthwhile life", he said,
"But knowing both of you, I am sure you can only be happy if your conscience is clear and you love and are loved and respected by other people. With your basic qualities of fine personality, good minds and bodies, life will not be difficult for you. When you need a helping hand and understanding, you have your dad to call upon as your friend."
No father ever gave his sons a finer gift through his parting
words and the monument of his own heroic life.
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[ Researched and drafted from notes and memo's by my father's sister, Francis Ohme in 1945 ]
(Edited, formatted, published by Herman W. Ohme,Jr -Oct. 25, 2001)