BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. Henry Schauer was born October 9, 1918, at Clinton, Oklahoma, and he lost his mother, Pauline, when he was six. His father moved to Montana where his grandparents lived.
His father had an itinerant life style so Henry lived with his grandparents, Hans and Emma Hanson. The Hanson’s had a ranch south of Scobey Montana. Schauer lived and worked there until he joined the Army in February 1941. He became one of “the Lucky Thirteen”, 13 young men from the Scobey area who all joined the Army on the same day. At the end of the war they all returned home and became known as the “Lucky Thirteen”.
Schauer and the other Scobey boys had all been assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and were all involved in the invasion of North Africa. After defeating the enemy in North Africa, the 3rd Infantry division participated in the invasion of Italy.
Schauer was wounded twice in Sicily and spent 151 days in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
On his release from the hospital, Schauer entered Italy at Salerno. Schauer was stationed at Anzio and it was there that he killed 17 Germans in 25 minutes. The breakthrough at Anzio was instrumental in the march to Naples and Rome. His patrol was out 17 hours, which caused a correspondent to declare him “Kraut- an- hour Schauer.”
On May 23rd 1944 near the town of Cisterna di Littoria, Schauer and his patrol were pinned down in a ditch. Schauer, without any thought for his own safety, left the cover of the ditch and engaged the four German snipers who had his patrol pinned down. Schauer moved forward towards the enemy. Stopping amid the fire centered on him, he killed all four of the snipers with four short bursts from his BAR. Seeing a fifth sniper out of the corner of his eye he killed him with a short burst from his BAR.
Shortly after, when an enemy artillery concentration and 2 machine guns halted the patrol, once again Schauer left his cover to engage the two enemy machine guns that had the patrol pinned down. Schauer moved to within 15 yards of one of the enemy machine guns and killed both of the Germans manning the machine gun. When two other enemy soldiers ran to man the machine gun Schauer killed them as well.
Putting a full magazine in his BAR, Schauer fired at the second enemy crew, killing all 4 Germans. The following morning, May 24, a German Mark VI tank and heavy machine gun fire again pinned Schauer’s unit down. Again with no thought for his own personal safety, Schauer stood up fully exposing himself to enemy fire and killed all four of the enemy machine gun crew with one burst of fire from his BAR.
An interesting side note, one morning coming back to camp after an all night patrol Schauer was stopped by a German lieutenant. The officer had been educated in America and spoke excellent English. He told Schauer that he was tired of the war and wanted to surrender. Usually Schauer’s unit did not take prisoners but the German had surrendered. Schauer assured him the rest of his crew would not be shot. The officer sent his sergeants to get the rest of his men. Schauer returned to his base that morning with 23 prisoners, all done without a single shot being fired.
Medal of Honor citation
Schauer’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. On May 23, 1944, at 12 noon, Pfc. (now T/Sgt.) Schauer left the cover of a ditch to engage 4 German snipers who opened fire on the patrol from its rear. Standing erect he walked deliberately 30 yards toward the enemy, stopped amid the fire from 4 rifles centered on him, and with 4 bursts from his BAR, each at a different range, killed all of the snipers. Catching sight of a fifth sniper waiting for the patrol behind a house chimney, Pfc. Schauer brought him down with another burst. Shortly after, when a heavy enemy artillery concentration and 2 machineguns temporarily halted the patrol, Pfc. Schauer again left cover to engage the enemy weapons single-handed. While shells exploded within 15 yards, showering dirt over him, and strings of grazing German tracer bullets whipped past him at chest level, Pfc. Schauer knelt, killed the 2 gunners of the machinegun only 60 yards from him with a single burst from his BAR, and crumpled 2 other enemy soldiers who ran to man the gun. Inserting a fresh magazine in his BAR, Pfc. Schauer shifted his body to fire at the other weapon 500 yards distant and emptied his weapon into the enemy crew, killing all 4 Germans. Next morning, when shells from a German Mark VI tank and a machinegun only 100 yards distant again forced the patrol to seek cover, Pfc. Schauer crawled toward the enemy machinegun. stood upright only 80 yards from the weapon as its bullets cut the surrounding ground, and 4 tank shells fired directly at him burst within 20 yards. Raising his BAR to his shoulder, Pfc. Schauer killed the 4 members of the German machinegun crew with 1 burst of fire.
T/Sgt. Henry Schauer died June 16, 1997 at Salem, Oregon and was buried in the City View Cemetery there with military honors. He was survived by his wife, Ellen, whom he married in 1964, and also by three step daughters, and one sister.
Much of the material in this article was gathered from an article “Kraut-an-hour Schauer” written by Dorothy Rustebakke.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.