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Palmer Helps Deceased Auburn Grad Get WWII Distinguished Service Cross for Role in D-Day Battle

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) announced on Wednesday, May 25 that his efforts to get Alabama native, First Lieutenant Melvin Spruiell long overdue recognition for his part in the World War II D-Day Invasion of Europe.

Congressman Gary Palmer said in a statement, “I was proud to assist a hero receive a much overdue high honor. My NDAA amendment awarded Alabama native First Lieutenant Melvin Spruiell the Distinguished Service Cross for his acts of valor during World War II. Mr. Spruiell was killed acting as a forward observer for the 101st Airborne Division at Normandy. His immediate two superiors were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and they, in turn, recommended that Mr. Spruiell receive one for his actions on June 10- 11, 1944.”

Rep. Palmer wrote that, “Spruiell graduated from Auburn University with a degree in chemical engineering, received a Masters at Tennessee, and a Doctorate at OSU. He also received a Purple Heart.”

The 101st Airborne Division’s service in World War II was popularized by the HBO mini-series ‘Band of Brothers’ based on the book by Stephen Ambrose. Since the Germans occupied France and most of continental Europe, allied forces (led by the United States and Great Britain) were forced to make the historic D-Day beach landings against a dug in German Army. The 101st Airborne and other paratrooper units parachuted into France to take and hold strategic positions until the rest of the Allied Army that took the beaches could join them in the massive offensive against Germany.

Direct American involvement in World War II began when the Empire of Japan attacked the US Pacific Fleet docked at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Adolph Hitler’s Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Italy declared war against the United States in support of their Japanese Allies in the days that followed. Because the Axis powers had conquered or controlled an unprecedented portion of the globe; US armed forces had to literally fight their way across two oceans to liberate most of Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. The war ended on September 2, 1945.

Memorial Day, which members the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died in this country’s many war, including World War II and our present wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, like Lt. Melvin Spruiell is on Monday, May 30 this year.

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Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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