Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2011

Life-long resident had illustrious record in WWII

HARTINGTON — Most area residents are aware of Joe Peitz.
He built a thriving service station here and later turned it into a truck dealership that’s still being run by his sons today.
Few area residents are aware of the crucial role Peitz played in World War II or all of the medals he earned during the war.

During World War II, Peitz was in the middle of combat for close to four years.
Peitz, who died July 18, 1990, left behind a legacy of patriotism and courage.
He was a member of Hartington’s National Guard unit when it was called overseas. He enlisted in the U.S. Army while he was in Europe serving from October,  1944 until he was released from the Army in May of 1947.
Peitz was commissioned an officer while on the battlefield. By the time he returned to his home at Hartington he had attained the rank of Captain.
Peitz was on duty as a Platoon Leader in December, 1944 near Habkirchen, Germany when he was ordered to place his platoon in position on the outskirts of the town to guard against the armored threat of the enemy.

During the mission Peitz made three trips into the outskirts of Habkirchen under full observation of the enemy and was fired on repeatedly by machine guns and mortars.
Peitz returned and under cover of darkness moved his platoon into position.
Peitz, who was a 1st Lt. with the 134th Infantry, 35th Division at the time, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in May 1945 for heroic service.

Peitz’s mission was completed without the loss of a man, according to Capt., John Campbell, Jr., who had submitted the recommendation for the award.
Peitz earned numerous other medals and honors including an American Campaign Medal, Army Occupation Medal, Army Commendation Ribbon, World War 11 Victory Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five stars, Combat Infantry Badge and American Defense Service Medal.
While serving his country Peitz also received a Purple Heart for wounds he received during combat in 1945.
His son, Tom Peitz, said his Dad didn’t talk about the war or speak of the many honors and medals he earned while serving his country.
“He didn’t talk about it. He never told us kids anything. He would shut the TV off if anything came on about the war,” Tom said. “Once in a while he would talk to his older brother Ferdie about the war.”
Peitz fought in battles and campaigns at Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe.
“He would not lose his cool when he was under fire,” Tom said. “I know he was the kind of man who would have lain down his life for others.”
Of the three and one-half years in the Army he served 31 months overseas as an Antitank Unit Commander.
While Peitz was overseas he was responsible for training, administration, discipline and tactical employment of 172 men.
Peitz was appointed Captain of the Corps of Military Police in 1947.
As the fighting ceased he commanded a company of military police in Berlin, Germany supervising the safety and security of occupational forces within the district.
Peitz was born in February of 1917 and lived all of his live in the Hartington area.
He ran Peitz Pontiac for a time and was involved in farming on a part-time basis. Later on he had a Mobile Oil Gas station and operated Peitz GMC.
He and his wife, Sylvia, raised their six children in Hartington: Darrell, Karen, who  is deceased, Mary Jean, Tom, Carla and Tim.