V Corps remembers D-Day

By Staff Sgt. Kenneth BurkhartJune 21, 2022

V Corps Ehlers' Cub winners remember D-Day
A C130 flies overs over Point du Hoc in Normandy France on June 6, 2022. Winners of V Corps' Ehlers Cup and sponsors had the unique opportunity to visits Normandy France on the 78th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth D Burkhart (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Kenneth Burkhart) VIEW ORIGINAL

Story by Staff Sgt. Kenneth Burkhart

47th Military History Detachment

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany- 15 Soldiers competed in V Corps' Ehlers Cup competition at Camp Aachen, Grafenwoehr, Germany from June 2nd until June 4, 2022. Competitors separated into three categories, enlisted, noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers. Soldiers from seven different units under V Corps operational command participated in 13 different events over three days.

The winners of the Ehlers Cup were 1st Lt. Paul Tretter from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Staff Sgt. Savon Hollimon of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and Spc. Zachary Rattlif 2nd Cavalry Regiment. They received the Army Commendation medal, a challenge coin from V Corps Commanding General, Lt. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, and a battlefield tour of Normandy, France during 78th D-Day invasion anniversary.

The competition was named in Honor of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. Walter D. Ehlers for his exceptional gallantry in Normandy, France June 9-10, 1944. Ehlers landed on Omaha beach with the 18th infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division under the operational command of V Corps.

The Senior Enlisted Advisor of V Corps, Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond S. Harris, wanted the Soldier of the Year competition to coincide with the D-Day anniversary.

“[CSM Harris] thought it would be a rare opportunity to be able to bring the winners and runners-up to Normandy” said, V Corps Ehlers Cup planner, Sgt. Maj. James Baynard.

The V Corps Ehlers Cup competition consisted of 13 events: a modified Army Combat Fitness Test; Administer First Aid; Nine Line Medical Evacuation; Respond to a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Attack, Assemble and Disassemble the M4, M17 and M240 Weapons Systems; Create a Range Card; Call For Fire; Map Reading; Write an Essay; 12-Mile Road March and an Evaluation Board.

“We also wanted lieutenants participating,” Baynard said. “We wanted to give them a chance to show what they're about, and to have an opportunity to win an award. We wanted to show that it shouldn't just be the NCOs and junior enlisted that get this opportunity. Because, at the end of the day, lieutenants are young, too. They're new to the army, and this provides them an opportunity and helps them grow, personally and professionally.”

Some of the evaluation board questions centered on 1st Lt. Ehlers.

"The competitors needed to know his story,” Baynard said. “Speaking with some of the competitors, they thought it was fitting the event was named after Ehlers since he was enlisted, became a noncommissioned officer and received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant."

(Then) Staff Sgt. Ehlers landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 and fought through the hedgerows near Goville, France. Ehlers crawled under fire to rescue an injured soldier who was pinned down. According to an interview with Ehlers, a bullet hit his side and glanced off his ribs before going through a bar of soap, a photo of his mother and a shovel he carried on his back. After the fire fight, he initially refused to withdraw and fought on with the unit until days later when he was shot again and evacuated for medical attention. For his valor displayed during these events, Walter Ehlers was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

One June 6, 2022, the winners of the V Corps Ehlers Cup, runners up and their sponsors went on a battle field tour of Normandy beach, starting the day with a hike around the Dog Red and Easy Green sectors of Omaha Beach where 1st Infantry Division landed. The group then visited the Widerstandsnester (resistance nests) and Point du Hoc, which was assaulted by 2nd Ranger Battalion on the eve of D-Day. The group ended their day at St. Mere Eglise, one of the first Normandy towns liberated by the 82nd Airborne.

With V Corps back in Europe, it was fitting to honor 1st Lt. Ehlers this year and to provide the proper recognition of excellence of today’s V Corps Soldiers.

As America's forward deployed Corps in Europe, V Corps works alongside NATO Allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces; executes joint, bilateral and multinational training exercises; and provides command and control for rotational and assigned units in the European theater.