HARTINGTON — The 134th Infantry Regiment Anti-Tank Company of Nebraska was part of the 35th Infantry Division during WWII. From the time the 134th Infantry Regiment landed at Omaha Beach on July 5 and 6, 1944 until they departed back to the United States on Sept. 5, 1945, they liberated or captured 124 towns, and in the process, the 134th suffered more than 10,200 casualties including over 1,200 soldiers who were killed in action.
The 134th Infantry Regiment Anti-Tank Company was made up of Nebraska National Guardsman and on Dec. 23, 1940 they were inducted into Federal Service by order of President Roosevelt and they were attached to the 35th Infantry Division.
On May 11, 1944 after extensive training and state side service, the 134th was sent to the European Theater-Of-Operation landing by boat in England. They called themselves “The Nebraska Boys” and their motto was “All Hell Can’t Stop Us”. After nearly a year and a half of distinguished and decorated service, the 134th was inactivated on Nov. 20, 1945.
The 134th of Nebraska included a number of Cedar County and northeast Nebraska boys who were proud to be part of the 134th Infantry Regiment and they proved it throughout their time in the front lines.
After marching across France, they landed in Normandy in July 1944 and fought through the infamous hedge rows to take St. Lo from the Germans. They marched on and crossed the Rhine River into Belgium and then into Germany. Eventually they would come under the command of General George Patton.In late December 1944, the German army pulled off a last-ditch offensive at the Battle of the Bulge. The 134th accompanied Patton’s 3rd Army on one of the greatest tactical maneuvers in the history of the war. They advanced 125 miles through torturous roads and bitter cold winter weather to relieve the 101st Airborne Division, surrounded by Nazis at the town of Bastogne. “
The Battle of the Bulge was non-stop barrage of brutal artillery, said Harvey Lentz from Hartington. I lost my best friend Herman Hansen of Coleridge who was killed in the fox hole next to me.” For Lentz and the rest of the 134th, the war marched on. In February 1945, Tech. Sgt. Harvey Lentz earned a Bronze Star Metal for working far out front of the allied lines on a mine-clearing operation displaying a high order of personal bravery, sound judgement and leadership ability. Hartington soldier 1st Lt. Joseph “Joe” Peitz also with the 134th was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic service. The citation read: “Under enemy observation and fire, Lt. Peitz, a platoon leader, made three trips into the outskirts of the enemy held village of Habkirchen, with a mission of locating positions for his 57mm guns. He accomplished his mission, returned to his position and under cover of darkness, moved it to position without any casualties. His cool, courageous actions are in accord with military tradition.”
As the war was coming to an end, the 134th came across a most horrific sight of the war. The retreating Germans had marched 1000 prisoners from a concentration camp into a barn and poured gas over all the prisoners and set fire to them and the barn burning them alive. Those trying to escape were shot to death by the Germans.
In May 1945, the war ended and the 134th spent some time at Hitler’s famous mountain retreat, the Eagle’s nest, before heading home to the United States on the Queen Mary ship in the fall of 1945.
Five Anti-Tankers from Hartington were awarded Certificates of Merit in recognition of their outstanding performance of military duty in the European theater of operations. The five men receiving the award were 1st Sgt. Harold W. Parks, Tech Sgt. Harvey W. Lentz, Sgt Ralph J. Roskopt, T/4 Elmer F. Christensen and Pfc. LeRoy M. Folkers. Following the war, the “Nebraska Boys” of the 134th gathered for reunions every few years to the chant of “All Hell Can’t Stop Us”.
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Anyone who wants to help remember the Hartington residents that helped keep the country safe during war time, can do so by contributing to the Hartington Veterans Memorial campaign. Please contact Dan Kathol fo rmore information at firstname.lastname@example.org.