By Jeff Gallatin
An All-American guy from North Olmsted was honored on Veterans Day for what he did for his fellow soldiers and country while under fire during World War II.
Dewey Limpert, 88, received three medals and other awards during a special ceremony Sunday at the North Olmsted VFW before a packed house of family, friends and fellow veterans. Limpert, who manned a machine gun mount on a half-track in the famed 10th “Tiger” Armored Division of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army as it drove into Germany, was given a Purple Heart, Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, an Army of Occupation Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation with a bronze oak leaf cluster and a combat infantryman badge.
“I’m still flabbergasted by a lot of this,” Limpert said afterward. “I really appreciate getting them, particularly after this amount of time. It does mean a lot to me.”
Army records indicated that the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor stemmed from an April 7, 1945, incident in which the Germans were counterattacking the 10th, which the Germans themselves had dubbed the “Ghost Division” for its habit of showing in unexpected locations and wreaking havoc with the enemy. Army records showed that after the half-track was peppered with shrapnel from a 500-pond bomb, which destroyed two of his 50-caliber machine guns, the wounded Limpert returned fire with his two remaining guns and shot down the German Me 262 jet aircraft that had delivered the bomb.
“I definitely still remember it,” Limpert said when asked. “It was happening quickly, and I saw it coming at us fast as the bomb was being delivered.”
Limpert said his fellow GIs got him taken care of after the incident. He said Sunday’s ceremony and many other Memorial Days and Veterans Days through the years make him think of friends in the service – both those who made it home, and others who didn’t.
“Sure, you think about them and appreciate all of them,” he said, noting one Army friend he stayed in touch with, Art Dokey of Colorado, died in the spring.
Limpert, a North Olmsted native, loved sports and earned multiple letters in football, basketball and baseball as well as serving as senior class treasurer before graduating from North Olmsted High School in 1942. After returning from the war, he married his high school sweetheart, Ruth. The two had two children, Jennifer (Limpert) Waldbauer and Duane Limpert. Dewey worked many years for Republic Steel, ending as head of maintenance planning.
Family and friends noted that like many other veterans, as well as members of the Limpert family, he also has worked many years in public service. He served 21 consecutive years on North Olmsted City Council, first as a councilman at large, then as council president. He remains active in the North Olmsted Kiwanis and is a 50-year Mason in the John Barkley Masonic Lodge in North Olmsted. He also founded Boy Scout Troop 664.
Dewey notes the Limperts are one of the oldest families in North Olmsted, adding he enjoys furthering the family tradition of serving North Olmsted.
“It’s a good place to be, I’ve enjoyed making my home here,” he said. Dewey and Ruth still live in their second home, which he built in a former hay field on Dover Center Road, on property he purchased from his aunt and uncle, just down the road from the original Limpert home in North Olmsted.
His children continued the tradition of family service themselves, and utilized those skills in contacting Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office to check on the medals for their father.
“He’s a wonderful man,” Jennifer said. “He’s always been there for other people. Even when he went into the service. He was being asked to play football at (the University of ) Iowa,” she said. “But he went to enlist, and after he didn’t get in the (then connected with the army) Air Force because of vision, he became a gunner in a half-track instead.”
Duane said working with Brown’s office was a must.
“He’s done so much for the city and other people. This was something we could do for him,” he said.
Laura Pechaitis from Brown’s office said many World War II vets did not get their medals.
“They just kept on going,” she said. “They weren’t concerned with medals. This a good reminder that if they or a family member think they’re due something, they should contact a federal official and we can help.”
Duane, who is himself currently the City Council president a former Ward 1 representative and former safety-service director for the city, said his father set a fine example.
“Service just comes naturally to him, and the rest of us do it, too,” he said.
Grandson Duane Jr., a West Point graduate and former Army captain who served in Iraq, said he and his grandfather have some friendly disagreements about their respective combat service.
“To me, World War II is still the tops in service for being in combat,” Duane Jr. said. “What they did for the rest of us is just the ultimate.”
Dewey, however, lauds his grandson and current combat soldiers.
“At least we knew who our enemy was and could see him coming,” Dewey said. “Now, it could be someone walking down the street with you.”
Army Special Forces captain and fellow combat veteran Christopher Zurawski of Olmsted Falls, who pinned the medals on Dewey, also praised him.
“I’m honored that they asked me to take part in the ceremony,” he said. “He’s part of the Greatest Generation, that’s pretty special.”