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  • June 11, 1944. Matt Urban is with  the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry,  

  • close to the wartorn beaches of NormandyFrance. The Germans are throwing everything  

  • they've got at the Americans. It's chaos, and in  the melee a soldier carrying a bazooka goes down.  

  • Urban, who's no stranger to being on the  losing end of a battle, picks up the bazooka  

  • and walks towards the advancing German tanks. His  men can only look on in awe as they watch him walk  

  • through the smoke towards those giant machinesHe takes two of them out, but is soon hit in the  

  • leg by shrapnel. Unfazed, he directs orders from  a stretcher, moving his men towards the action.  

  • His motto: You never turn away from a fight. He would do this kind of thing time and again,  

  • walk right into the line of fire, his gun blazinghis own blood staining his military fatigues.  

  • He suffered tremendously for his braverybut he almost single-handedly won battles,  

  • and he saved countless soldiers' lives. Urban was possibly one of the most  

  • courageous soldiers the U.S. has ever  produced. He wasn't only insanely valiant,  

  • he was also a brilliant tactician. He could have died; he should have died  

  • on numerous occasions, but there's a reason he got  the nicknameThe Ghost.” He was unstoppable and  

  • he could seemingly defy death. Time and again  he took out the enemy and somehow evaded being  

  • killed himself. That's why he became one of the  most decorated American soldiers of all time:  

  • The Medal of Honor. Seven Purple Hearts. Silver  Stars. The French Croix de Guerre. The American  

  • Campaign Medal, and others. This is his story

  • Born on August 25, 1919, Urban was brought  up on the tough streets of Buffalo,  

  • New York. His family were regular blue-collar  workers. There wasn't much cash to go around,  

  • but coming from a humble background no doubt  set this person up to become the man he became

  • In high school he succeeded in most sports  and was a very proficient boxer. In 1937,  

  • he enrolled at Cornell University to study  history. While there he joined the Reserve  

  • Officers Training Corps, competing in  its athletics and boxing competitions

  • His life was about to change forever. The world  was about to change forever. War was on its way

  • November 8, 1942. Urban finds himself under fire  for the first time in his life. He's part of  

  • what's called the invasion of North Africa. He's  fighting at the Battle of Port Lyautey in French  

  • Morocco when something happens to Urban that will  shape him into the fearless soldier he'll become

  • It's a vicious fight, with both sides seeing many  casualties. Some of the American landing boats  

  • don't even make it to the port. At one point Urban  finds himself in the middle of the battle, guns  

  • blazing all around him, smoke filling the airSuddenly he's standing in the midst of the chaos,  

  • holding the decapitated head of a comrade. He  would later say that it was the shock he felt at  

  • that moment that motivated him to become a heroThe battle is won, and Urban is sent to Tunisia

  • There he captures a German communications post  almost by himself. He leads his men against the  

  • German army in the Battle of Kasserine PassHis battalion holds off a German counterattack,  

  • and Urban is fierce as always. During  the fight his men are on the back foot,  

  • but Urban holds his ground. At one point he  grabs a German soldier and kills him with a  

  • trench knife. He then takes the dead man's pistol  and rushes towards the Germans firing at him

  • All this doesn't come without injuries. Urban  suffers seven different injuries from shrapnel,  

  • but of course he refuses to go back  to the U.S. to receive treatment.  

  • For his bravery he later gets two Silver Stars,  a Bronze Star, and with two Purple Hearts

  • This is just the beginning of this  man's death-defying actions in the army

  • He's then sent to Sicily where he's given an  order to take his unit across a mountainous trail  

  • so they can outflank German troops. 4,000 troops  with their mules make the hazardous journey  

  • and they mount a surprise attack on the  Germans. The enemy has no choice but to retreat.  

  • Sicily is soon liberated and Urban can add  another Silver Star to his growing collection

  • Now we come to France and the beaches  of Normandy. This is when Urban takes  

  • that bazooka and blasts two German tankssaving many lives on the side of the Allies

  • Just a day later, Urban is hit by shrapnel. This  time it's more serious. His men try to convince  

  • him to get help, but as always, the stubborn Urban  says he can go on. 'tis but a scratch, he may or  

  • may not have told his men, but it doesn't matter  anyway because he's hit again not long after.  

  • This time it's even more serious and Urban has no  choice but to go to England and receive treatment

  • So, there he is, lying in a hospital bed in  England when he gets word that his men are not  

  • faring too well in Normandy. What should happen  is Urban follows orders and returns to the U.S.  

  • His leg is in a really bad way. It gives him  constant pain, and he can't walk without a cane

  • This doesn't stop him. He gets forty guys  together and they board a troop carrier and  

  • return to France. Once there he hitchhikes to Utah  Beach where his battalion is. When he arrives,  

  • he finds his men in a difficult position. They're  taking heavy fire and are basically pinned down

  • It's now time for more heroics. Urban is informed that a U.S tank still  

  • has its driver in it. Two soldiers have already  been killed by the Germans after trying to get  

  • to the turret and the 50-caliber machine gunUnder heavy fire, Urban crawls through the mud,  

  • making his way to the tank. Where others have  failed, he succeeds. He gains control of the  

  • tank and orders the driver to head towards the  Germans. Under fire from anti-tank artillery,  

  • Urban and the driver keep pressing ahead. Those who witness this can't believe their eyes.  

  • Here is a man that can hardly walk. A man that  should be in a hospital bed, and he's blasting  

  • his way through German forces like he's both  invisible and invincible. This guy is half-crazy,  

  • say some men, it's as if he has no fear. It's  then that they give him the name, “The Ghost.” 

  • The Ghost isn't done yet. He's just starting. After reaching enemy lines in his tank,  

  • Urban's men gain confidence. They pick up their  guns and run toward the Germans. What ensues  

  • is a fight for life, hand-to-hand combat and  bayonet fighting between U.S. and German troops.  

  • Buoyed by the brutal strength of their commanderthe American troops overwhelm the Germans.  

  • The white flag is held up. The enemy is defeated. All this is being watched from a distance.  

  • Second Battalion Commander Max L. Wolf has  been standing at a far-off command post  

  • watching the fight through his binocularsHe can't believe what he's just witnessed.  

  • One man has pretty much led his men to victory in  a battle they looked certain to lose. Wolf soon  

  • recommends Urban for the Medal of Honor, not just  for showing incredible bravery, but for saving the  

  • lives of a battalion that looked sure to die. This is what was later written about Urban's  

  • actions, and why he was recommended for the Medal: “Urban moved forward, and damned if the U.S. Army  

  • didn't move forward also. He bellied up to the  tank and amid heavy gunfire scrambled aboard and  

  • manned the machine gun. The driver took heart  with Urban aboard. The tank roared forward,  

  • and Urban tore the hillside apart with that  gun. The men, once again with 'Urban-itis'  

  • scrambled up the rise and gained the objective.” So, does Urban return home, collect his medal and  

  • bask in the warmth of his country's appreciation? Hell no, he fights on,  

  • even with a seriously damaged leg. Around a week later, he gets injured again,  

  • this time by a shell fragment that  just misses his heart. Does he return  

  • home when asked? You know the answer to that. His admirer, Wolf, is taken out by the Germans,  

  • so the 24-year old Urban assumes command  of the 2nd battalion. Believe it or not,  

  • he gets wounded yet again by shrapnel, but  he manages to stay with his unit. That unit  

  • receives the French Croix de Guerre, and now it's  time for Urban to raise hell over in Belgium

  • This is where he really should  dieGod knows how he didn't. 

  • He's fighting against the Germans with his  battalion in a place called Philippeville.  

  • There they've discovered a fairly largewell-equipped German unit. When Urban and his men  

  • finally get the aircraft cover they've requestedthey advance towards the German troops. Not one to  

  • shy away from a fight, Urban runs at the GermansHis objective is to take out a machine gun nest,  

  • but to do that, he has to get close. Armed with  two grenades he runs towards the emplacement.  

  • His men watch in wonder, and then in horroras their commander takes a bullet to the neck

  • Urban is now lying on the floor, trying to  staunch a river of blood seeping from his neck.  

  • The unused grenades lie at his  side. His life force diminishes

  • Luckily for him, some of his men manage to  drag him through the mud and take him to  

  • a place of safety. There they patch him up as  best they can as bullets rain over their heads

  • A doctor arrives at the scene. He administers  blood to Urban and performs a tracheotomy so  

  • he can breathe. Until then, Urban was gurgling  blood, looking like his days were numbered. He's  

  • in such a bad way that when the chaplain arriveshe's read his last rites. The doctor approves,  

  • saying this man has seen his last fight. But we are talking about a man called The Ghost.  

  • Ghosts don't die easily. Urban knocks on death's door a  

  • few times during his recovery, but in hospital in  France he gets over the worst of it. In England,  

  • he receives more treatment and a man that  looked as good as dead comes back to life

  • And no, he doesn't go home to the U.S. You should  know that by now. Instead, he gets the green light  

  • in Scotland to go back to his battalion. His  men are over the moon to see him because no  

  • one thought he could have survived that neck  wound. It's as if they are looking at a ghost

  • There is a slight problem when it comes to leading  his men. He can't actually speak. He asks the  

  • higher ups if he can take a combat assignment and  if he can do that using writing, not speaking.  

  • This is a bridge too far for his Infantry Regiment  commander. He's told he can stay with his men for  

  • a while, but no more big fights. It's time to  hang up your gloves, the commander tells him

  • Urban retired from the military in  1947 to concentrate on sports coaching,  

  • especially boxing. He trained a bunch of young  men and helped them to become national Golden  

  • Gloves Champions. He even trained Cassius Clay for  a while, the man that would become Muhammad Ali,  

  • possibly the greatest fighter that ever livedUrban could talk in those days, but his damaged  

  • vocal chords gave him quite a raspy voice. The Ghost died in 1995, aged 75. The cause  

  • of death was a collapsed lung, a consequence  of the injuries he'd received in the war

  • Now you need to watch, “The Insanely  Crazy Story of a Tiny Soldier.” Or,  

  • Bazooka Charlie - Pilot Who  Attached A Bazooka To Plane.”

June 11, 1944. Matt Urban is with  the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry,  

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The Ghost of WWII (World War 2)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/18
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