Lost: N/A Found: 2015 Returned: 20 December 2015 Location: Winsted, MN
On 20 December 2015, the lost Purple Heart of WWII Hero 1st Lieutenant Benedict F. Hoffmann returned home to his sister. The presentation occurred at the Martin Krueger Post #407 of the American Legion located at 161 1st Street North, Winsted, MN.
Lieutenant Benedict Francis Hoffmann (SN: 0-026183) was born August 16, 1920, at Winsted, Minn., the second child of Frank and Elizabeth Hoffmann. During his youth, which was spent with his family, he displayed great devotion to his home. He successfully passed from first to twelfth grade at Holy Trinity School at Winsted, carrying five major subjects during both his junior and senior year, and meriting commendable grades. In fact, he ranked second in his class, being graduated in June of 1938.
Besides his scholastic activities, he was intensely interested and actively participated in athletics, in which field he manifested qualities always so characteristic of him, love for sportsmanship and fair play.
In 1939 he attended preparatory school at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. It was there that he obtained his army appointment for West Point in July, 1940. In June, 1943, he was graduated and commissioned Second Lieutenant.
After his graduation, he spent his leave at Winsted with his loved ones at home and the friends of his boyhood days. His fellow townsmen were proud of Benedict, and in their happiness to have him in their midst, they celebrated at a festive banquet in his honor, where congratulations were showered upon him.
His return to duty found him stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, for infantry training. Later he spent some time at Camp White, Oregon, where he attained the rank of First Lieutenant, and in December, 1943, he was assigned to the 96th Division and joined the 383rd Infantry. This meant transfer to San Francisco, from whence he sailed for overseas duty in July, 1944.
As for his life over there, possibly Colonel Edwin T. May, Commanding Officer of the 383rd Infantry, was in a position to say most. He writes in a letter dated May 1, 1945:
“Before the present Okinawa campaign, Lieutenant Hoffmann was placed on my special staff as liaison officer, which entailed taking and receiving valuable information to and from higher headquarters. He had performed this job excellently, when his ability was sorely needed in the Second Battalion, and he was transferred there to serve as Battalion S-3. His organization was in close contact with the enemy, and fierce fighting ensued. Upon losing one of our best company commanders, Lt. Hoffmann was immediately considered for this most important task, as his excellent work while serving in his various assigned positions had clearly shown that he possessed all the necessary requisites to assume the many responsibilities that would come with his new office.
“His death came as he was moving forward to assume command of his company, when an enemy sniper, firing at long range, shot and instantly killed him. Medical aid was immediately rendered, but to no avail.
“He was buried in the 96th Division Temporary Cemetery, Grave Number 576, Okinawa Shima, in a quiet and peaceful setting, beside other of his brave comrades who had made the supreme sacrifice. He was buried with full military honors, according to the rites of his own faith.
“Lt. Hoffmann’s death leaves a void in the hearts of us all. During the Leyte campaign, he had done an outstanding job, when he was shot in the stomach by an enemy sniper and immediately evacuated. His recovery was extremely rapid for a wound so serious, and soon he was back with us again. His every action, during both the Leyte and the Okinawa operation, was indicative of the highest courage, ability, and honor. He was a soldier’s soldier, and he died as he had lived, with courage and a strong heart, on 22 April, 1945.”
The medal was discovered by a Mrs. Shelly Connolly. Her mother, Lorraine T. Ducharme Noone was engaged to be married to 1LT Hoffmann at the time of his death. She held onto his medal and other artifacts until her death as a reminder of the love that never returned.
Receiving the medal and other artifacts was 1LT Hoffmann’s only living sibling, Mrs. Leona Hoffmann Drew, a resident of Winsted, MN.
This ceremony was made possible by a grant from the Purple Heart Foundation and with assistance from The Mabee Family Foundation. As a small family foundation, the Mabee Family Foundation seeks out organizations that look to preserve history, the environment, and build close-knit communities. With their generous donation, 1LT Hoffmann’s historical legacy will be preserved and his lost medal of Valor will be returned to his family.
News Report: Fox 9