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Prof. Edward Albert "Ed" Peniche has passed away August 2008
Edward Albert "Ed" Peniche
502nd parachute Infantry Regiment E-Company
101st Airborne Division
KIA January 31st, 1945Ed, 83 years young, was a veteran of the US Army and fought in the 101st Airborne Division in the battles of Normandy (June 1944), Hell's Highway (September 1944) and the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 - January 1945). In 2006, Ed visited Plano, Texas and talked to the Gearbox Software "Hell's Highway" Team about what it was like to be in of Operation Market Garden (Hell's Highway) and land at the LZ at Son in a Waco Glider. Steve Palmer and I also made a video interview of Ed's WWII experiences and portions of this are on our web site.
Ed was an extraordinary man and served in WWII as a volunteer. What is more remarkable is that he didn't become an American citizen until after the war.
Patton once said: "We ought not mourn the men who have died. Rather, we should THANK GOD THAT SUCH MEN LIVED."
Edward Albert "Ed" Peniche
EDWARD "Ed" ALBERT PENICHE, also known as Eduardo Alberto Peniche Carvajal, 83, died on August 16, 2008 following a massive hemorrhagic stroke on August 10, 2008. He was a man of unbridled optimism, great intellect, a historian, with classic "old school" charm and had boundless love, admiration and respect for his wife of 54 years, Lois Dean (Baggett) Peniche. At 5' 5" tall, Ed towered with accomplishments and shared unlimited joy with all who were around him. The following is a condensed outline of his unbelievable life: Progreso and "the Yucatan" : Ed was born on June 28, 1925 to Ariosto and Amada Peniche in Progreso, Mexico, located in the hot, tropical and beautiful Yucatan Peninsula. He was the oldest of eight children, having 3 brothers and 4 sisters. In addition to going to school and enjoying his father's lifelong habit of reading, Ed enjoyed fishing and playing baseball and soccer.
Paducah, Kentucky, 1940. At age 15 Ed came to the United States on a student visa, living with his aunt and uncle in the western Kentucky city of Paducah. The Spanish teacher, Lucille Robertson and her husband, took Ed under their wings, delighted in 1942 to have a native speaker around. World War II, 1943-1945. As Ed approached the age of 18, he registered for the draft (required not only of citizens, but resident aliens) and then did as many of his North American friends were doing, volunteering to serve in the U.S. Army for service in World War II.
The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division. Shipboard and headed to England, Ed heard a presentation by paratroopers in jump boots and red berets about the honor of serving in the 101st Airborne Division. Ed was impressed and decided to join the prestigious Screaming Eagles. The Miracle Inch. When he attempted to become a paratrooper, upon being advised that 5' 5" was too short, he said "Doggone it, and I was hoping to be a bazooka-man". The sergeant told his lieutenant "we have a bazooka-man here". Due to the weight of the gun and the return fire it drew, no one wanted to be a bazooka-man. The lieutenant barked "measure him again, I'm sure you were mistaken" and sure enough, Ed magically grew the needed extra inch and was on his way to destiny with history.
The Normandy Invasion (D-Day), June 6, 1944. Ed's unit was due to land at Utah beach on D-Day. Ed was always frank in stating that the logistics of war is not always smooth as shown in the movies. His unit's transport launch was misdirected and did not land on Normandy's Utah beach until June 9, 1944. However, they saw action in Carentan, France a few days later. Hell's Highway Holland, September, October 1944. After getting attached to the "second of the five oh second" (2nd Brigade, 502nd Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) Ed and the 101st and others participated with the British in the mission to keep the main highway through Holland secure. The campaign was known as "Operation Market Garden" and involved fierce combat. The book and movie, "A Bridge Too Far", is centered on a British defeat during Operation Market Garden. There were also extensive references to the campaign in "Band of Brothers". The Battle of the Bulge, December 16, 1944 January 25, 1945. The 101st served in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest military battle in US history. Ed's anti-tank team set up near the apex where two roads come together in Longchamps, Belgium, a village on Bastogne's northwest edge. This 19 year old Mexican from the tropics was able to enjoy his first "white Christmas" in a frozen foxhole from his position at the edge of the Luc Feller farm house. He ended up with frostbite, from which he suffered for the rest of his life but over which he never complained. The Christmas Attack. At about 3 a.m. on Christmas morning German planes began bombing their position followed by the whirr of their Panzer tanks approaching the U.S. line up the hill. The fighting was furious. Fifty years later, in 1994, Ed's son Carlos listened in on an interview of his father standing on the very site at the edge of the farm house. His father's voice broke as he told the journalist that across the road to his left he heard the battalion commander order "fix bayonets" and Ed, in his still thick "Mexican" accent said that at that moment he realized that he was "serving with men of honor", implying that he had it easy because his comrades were moving forward out of the "safety" of their position to launch their counterattack. But of course, he was in equal danger since being a bazooka-man made him a prized and easily identifiable target. Multiple Wounds. On January 3, 1945 Ed's unit faced a fierce assault by a German Panzer tank unit. Again, there was heavy fighting. His team took out three tanks before they took a near direct hit, resulting in shrapnel hitting Ed in multiple locations with an especially severe wound to his left leg. His team, consisting of Sgt. Joe O'Toole, Private Darrell Garner and Ed, continued firing at German targets when their anti-tank weapon took a direct hit, destroying the weapon and severely injuring O'Toole and Garner. Ed suffered a concussion wound, bleeding from both ears and his nose. Heroism While Under Fire. Ed checked on his buddies and saw they were both still alive. In spite of his wounds, Ed, while under fire, left the "safety" of his foxhole and crawled up the hill to the back side where the command post (CP) was, letting the CP know so that medics could come to move O'Toole and Garner to safety. Messrs. O'Toole and Garner kept in touch with Ed off and on for the remainder of their lives. Ed received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star with Valor for his heroic efforts on that day. In late 1945 after the war, he was honorably discharged and returned to a hero's welcome in Progreso, Mexico.
The Mexican Army, 1946-1952. Ed spent six years in the Mexican army as an officer. The highlight of his tour was serving as co-founder of Mexican Army Airborne School in Mexico City, for which he was honored in August 1998.