CRANSTON — On Friday, U.S. Senator Jack Reed presented Warwick resident and World War II veteran Willard D. “Bud” Voigt with medals he earned on the battlefield but never received for his courageous World War II service during a ceremony at the Rhode Island National Guard Command Readiness Center in Cranston.
A veteran of the United States Army, Voigt received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and several other prestigious awards.
Born in Massachusetts in 1925, Willard “Bud” Voigt grew up in Fall River during the Great Depression era and graduated from Durfee High School in 1943. That same year he voluntary enlisted in the U.S. Army and completed basic training at Camp Croft, South Carolina before being sent to the United Kingdom in March of 1944 in preparation for the upcoming D-Day landings.
In the weeks after the invasion, Voigt served with the 90th Infantry Division throughout Northern France as part of the U.S. Army’s engagement of German forces throughout the country. In a town called St. Lo, Voigt was wounded from grenade shrapnel while he and his comrades attacked a German machine gun nest. While Voigt’s platoon succeeded in taking the machine gun nest, a fellow American soldier was killed by his side.
After the war ended in 1945 he was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, as part of the Allied occupation force.
Voigt returned to the United States in April 1946, and with the help of the G.I. Bill, received a B.A. in Business from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He married his wife, Gladwyn, and began a successful career as a financial advisor.
In addition to the prestigious Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart, Voigt was also presented with other military honors he earned but never received after completing his service, including: Good Conduct Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Star; World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantry Badge; Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII; and Marksman Badge & Rifle Bar.
“Bud Voigt is a hero. He personifies the courage and extraordinary selflessness that is characteristic of our World War II veterans,” said Senator Reed, who first met Mr. Voight three years ago during an honor flight trip for Rhode Island World War II veterans. “The war changed the course of his life, and the actions he and his fellow soldiers took helped change the course of history. I am proud to honor Mr. Voight’s patriotism, bravery, and the sacrifices he made over seventy years ago as a young soldier, as well as the civic contributions he made as a citizen after returning home from war. These medals are a small, long overdue token of our enduring gratitude. We simply can’t say thank you enough to members of the Greatest Generation like Bud Voigt.”
Bud’s wife of 64 years, Gladwyn Voigt, and several of their children and grandchildren attended the event, along with friends and well-wishers.
Today, roughly five percent of the 16 million veterans of World War II are still with us. Another 500 members of the “Greatest Generation” pass away every day, according to Reed’s office.