Corporal Robert Ray Pierce
– 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division –
Corporal Robert Ray “Bobby” Pierce was born on 25 May 1918 in Charleston, West Virginia to Richard T Pierce and Hester Stephenson Pierce of Porter Road. He had 3 years of high school education and worked in the composition room of the Charleston Daily Mail. He enjoyed playing baseball and played basketball with the Charleston Reds and had a trophy named for him, the Bob Pierce Trophy for foul shooting.
Bobby enlisted in the 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Division on 15 January 1942 in Fort Thomas, Newport, Kentucky. He participated in the Sicily and North Africa campaigns before he went to France to fight for our freedom.
After arriving in Normandy in June 1944, the 9th Infantry Division helped to cut the Cotentin Peninsula and pushed farther inland.
On July 9th 1944, under the command of Colonel Harry A. Flint, the 39th Infantry Regiment approached the town of Le Dézert. The 1st Battalion was positioned on the left flank, just in front of Le Dézert, while the 2nd battalion was on the right. 3rd battalion stayed in reserve, about 1500 meters northeast.
Shortly before midnight July 10th, 1944, enemy tanks of the Panzer Lehr Division could be heard just south of Le Dézert, and shortly after launched a violent offensive using the 1st Battalion of the Panzergrenadier Lehr Regiment 901, reinforced by two tank companies in the early hours on July 11th.
The Germans wanted to take advantage of the gap that was open between the positions of the 9th Infantry Division in the west and the 30th Infantry Division in the east. Americans are surprised by the German breakthrough and 1st Battalion of the 39th Infantry Regiment was forced to retreat about 550 meters, and so temporarily abandoning the town of Dézert. American artillery support managed to stop the German attack, and the next day on July 12th, the men of the 39th Infantry Regiment managed to take the town of Le Dézert. During the final actions to take the town, Corporal Robert Pierce was Killed In Action on the 12th of July, 1944. Sadly, Bobby was engaged to be married at the time of his death to a woman named Bernadine Wickline.
Corporal Pierce is buried in the American Cemetery in Normandy, France.
Robert’s name also appears on a monument in Downtown Charleston because he was KIA in WWII, and on another monument located on the Capitol grounds for World War II KIA.
We will never forget the sacrifice that Corporal Pierce made for us, so we can now live in freedom.
Special thank you to Donald Jones, the Great Grand Nephew of Bobby Pierce, who provided me all the great pictures and personal information about Bobby.