NORTH ANDOVER – Last month The Valley Patriot went along with Gerard Maguire, the Veteran’s Services Coordinator for the towns of North Andover and Boxford as he delivered a custom fitted, electric wheelchair for a WWII hero veteran who lost his arm in battle and now is unable to walk.
Richard Lussier fought against the major offensive push by the German military near the end of World War II. Serving with headquarters, 78th Infantry Division, at only nineteen years old, Lussier would display an act of bravery so great that it earned him the Silver Star. The battle raged from December of 1944 through January of 1945, a period of about sixty days. It was a decisive battle, turning the tides of victory in the direction of the Allied Armed Forces against the German military.
Sergeant Lussier, now ninety-one years old, recalls the day he entered an old farmhouse. Once inside, he cleared the first floor. But, startled by a noise that came from the direction of the cellar, Sergeant Lussier descended the stairs where he had discovered that there were 27 German soldiers hiding from the advancing American army.
Sergeant Lussier, tired, afraid, and armed with his M-1 Garand, raised his weapon toward the enemy. The German soldiers, as it turns out, were also tired and afraid. Thinking this was the end, Sergeant Lussier prepared to fight to the end when, amazingly, the German soldiers just laid their weapons on the ground and put their hands in the air!
Sergeant Lussier, still alone, then marched the Nazi soldiers out to where his unit was just arriving.
The battle continued to rage and the 78th Infantry Division would advance to Berlin. The following day, after making the capture of the 27 German soldiers, the 78th ID was engaged in a fierce gun battle where Lussier was shot in the left arm.
“Just before we were to go into Berlin, I saw the rifle scope of a sniper. We were the support troops for the Battle of the Bulge,” Lussier told The Valley Patriot.
“I saw him laying down and he had a beat on me with the telescope of his rifle and he was aiming right at me while I was walking down the trail. I said to myself, ‘I think he’s going to shoot at me, I better shoot first.’”
“I had my rifle in my right hand. I fired a shot towards him, but he fired at me too at about the same time. His bullet hit my rifle, went up the rifle and hit me in the shoulder. I was left handed and I would have shot from the left if I had thought about it, but it was such a quick thing there was no time to think.”
“I think you can understand that when you are in the military you do what you are told. So, I had to fire my rifle from the right as I was trained, even though I was left-handed. They didn’t care if I was left-handed or what. I probably would have had a better shot if I had fired from my left.”
“I remember when the bullet hit me, I hit the ground. Those medics were right there for me and I said to them ‘get that guy’. But, they weren’t there to go after him; they were there to help me. The medic picked me up, hauled me up the hill behind the lines and saved my life.”
Lussier’s wound was so severe that his arm would have to be amputated. While Lussier lay in a hospital bed for over a year recovering from the surgery, Berlin fell to the Allied Armed Forces, specifically as the Soviet armies advanced leaving a peaceful entry for the other three allies to advance on Berlin.
During his tenure in the United States Army, Sergeant Richard Lussier was awarded The Silver Star, The Bronze Star, The Purple Heart for wounds sustained in a firefight and the Berlin Occupation Medal!
His son, Raymond was in Special Forces in Vietnam, something that he says makes him “very, very, proud.”
Sergeant Lussier, has served and remains a proud soldier! Thank you Sgt. Richard Lussier for your service and your sacrifice. We are honored to name you as this month’s Valley Patriot of the Month.