The combat record of the 45th Armored Medical Battalion is aft almost continuous saga of heroism under fire, of never-ending labors to lighten the burden of the front line soldier, minister to his wounds, and save his life in spite of "impossible" field conditions. Lieutenant Colonel Charles L. Steyaart, commanding officer of the battalion, found the task arduous. but he and his troopers of the red cross shrugged off all limitations. They just went to work. The medical corps motto, "Service Above Self", was characteristic of the 45th.
Although aid men of the battalion carried no firearms or other weapons they accompanied "Spearhead" combat troops throughout every battle, from Normandy to central Germany. In order to save precious time, one half of a treatment section traveled with the forward elements of each fighting task force, The very presence of these men during the most critical of situations was a constant morale builder to combat GI's.
In action, a fleet of armored half tracks, 3/4 ton panel ambulances, and peeps, carried injured men from the battlefield to a relatively safe place in the rear, often through a hail of shell fire and small arms bullets, Many of the medical men were killed or wounded while performing their errands of mercy. After temporary dressing, the wounded were sent further to the rear, often, in the great drives, for distances of 50 to 150 miles, to the larger field hospitals. Throughout all of the European campaigns, the battalion operated advance rest centers and portable shower bath units to accommodate bone-tired Gl's just off the blazing front line. It was a service these men never forgot.
Advance companies of the "Spearhead Medics" landed in Normandy on June 24, 1944, and went into action with the rest of the division at Villiers Fossard, five days later. There was no hesitation on the part of the Red Cross troopers:
They had been well trained for their part in the forthcoming campaigns. "Service Above Self" had become more than a motto: It was a way of life.
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