Texas-born Felix Sparks began WWII as an executive officer with 157th Infantry Regiment. He participated in four amphibious operations, first leading men into combat in September 1943 as captain of E Company, 157th.
He lost his entire company other than one man at Anzio in February 1944 and almost all of his battalion to the SS in January 1945 in the Vosges. Wounded twice, as a Lt. Colonel he led the first Americans to liberate Dachau, the longest standing concentration camp in the Third Reich.
Many believe he should have received the Medal of Honor for his actions. He became commanding general of the Colorado National Guard after the war. By all accounts, he was one of the finest combat commanders in WWII.
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Sparks lost hundreds of men to the enemy in WWII. But what did he actually think of the Germans who had killed so many of the men he loved and lead?
“I have no hard feelings at all. Those poor bastards, the soldiers, were just doing the same thing we were doing. What we were told to do. I never had any hard feelings for the Germans. They were just helpless once they got caught in Hitler’s scheme. I just couldn’t hate them.”
There was an incident where one of our soldiers was killed, one of the men in my company – he was deliberately shot by the Germans. He was a medic.
He went out to try to help a German casualty, a German captain as a matter of fact. Well we took a damn mountain, called “880” or something. We called every mountain by the elevation in meters, 880 or 480 or whatever it was.
The Germans counter-attacked. It was a stupid counter attack. There was only about fifty of them and I had about a hundred and fifty men left at that time. We knocked them down. They just charged at us and we mowed them down. But the lead guy was a captain and he fell right in front of us, maybe seventy-five feet away, something like that, right in front of us.
He kept groaning and groaning and groaning. This medic I had, a guy by the name of Jack Turner from Lemar, Colorado – he wanted to go out and bandage him and take care of him.
I said no Jack you can’t go out there. Well things quieted down and I got about half asleep – we never did much sleep, but we got a chance to take a nap.
I was about half asleep and somebody yelled at me, “Captain Turner’s out there”. I looked up and Turner was almost to that captain and he his Red Cross armband off and was waiving it in the air.
Somebody cut him, just about cut him in half with a machine gun. It killed him instantly. That night we went out and tied a piece of communication wire to his leg and to that captain as well. Dragged them both with that communication wire.
Well I was pretty mad at the Germans for that time. But you know the day before we took that hill, two sergeants had been killed and the Germans had taken their bodies and they dug two nice graves for them. The Germans did! And that God damn ground was like solid rock almost.
They had them buried only about six or eight inches deep and they put two wooden crosses with their dog tags hanging on them.
We never bothered about burying any German soldiers – I’ll tell you that. [Sparks laughs] So you never knew how to figure those guys. But they’re just like anybody else. That guy that cut down Turner…he just, I don’t know, just got trigger happy I guess. So everybody was mad at the Germans in the Company at that time. But I could never really get excited about being angry at them.
What the hell, they were just soldiers doing what they were told to do. So I never had any hard feeling. The closest I came [to hating them] was in Dachau. The way they had the prisoners there and the dead. I did have some hard feelings for the SS. The SS ran all those prison camps. And the SS had murdered a bunch of American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge [at Malmedy].
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Word of Malmedy got around pretty fast. We didn’t get much word during the war about the units on the right and left but we sure as hell heard about that Malmedy massacre in a hurry. Where they had all those GIs surrendered, lined up and shot. The whole Nazi system I hated with a passion. If I had a chance to kill Hitler, I would have slit his throat.