Disabled World War II Army veteran Rex J. Aullman, 64, Salt Lake City, earned the Bronze Star medal in Europe 44 years ago. But it was not until a few weeks ago that he was presented the medal, by Gov. Norm Bangerter in special ceremonies at the State Capitol.
Aullman was an infantry sergeant who participated in the D-day invasion of Normandy, landing on Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division.On Dec. 16, 1944, Aullman and a buddy, Sgt. John M. January, were among thousands of GIs cornered in a farming area near Bastogne, surrounded by German soldiers during a major German counterattack during the last stages of the war, called the Battle of the Bulge.
Aullman said he and January were taking cover in a farmyard during a German artillery attack. They saw two wounded soldiers in a street nearby who were bleeding to death from their wounds. Aullman and January found a damaged and abandoned jeep, got its motor started and, despite the threat to their own lives from the shells landing and exploding all around them, they carried the two wounded men to the jeep and drove them to an aid station.
On Dec. 20, Aullman was wounded in his legs by enemy shelling and was put on top of a tank that managed to fight its way out of the encirclement. He was taken to a hospital in Paris and then sent to England. He was discharged a year later, on Dec. 4, 1945, and was never told he had been recommended for the Bronze Star.
It was not until a few years ago, when he began corresponding with his old war buddy, January, who now lives in Maryland, that he learned he had won the medal. Through letters to military officials and January's help, the Army acknowledged its debt to Aullman, and a medal was finally presented.