Edgar G. Pedersen was born on June 7, 1919, and was raised as a Lutheran.
Edgar entered the service on February 21, 1941, after graduating
from high school. The following is his story, told in his own words.
I was inducted into the Army at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. I was
sent to Fort Lewis, Washington for training in the Third Infantry
Division. One year later I was on cadre to activate the 81st
Infantry Division at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Following a year of
training, I was transferred to assist in training troops for the
87th Infantry Division at Camp McCain, Mississippi. From Camp McCain
we were sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Camp Kilmer, New
Jersey and then shipped to Macasfield, England. We then proceeded
across the English Channel to France.
The 87th was the first unit in the European Theater of War to
take hold of German territory. Our unit, with the 35th Division on
the left and the 44th Division on the right, replaced the 26th
Division, who had suffered heavy casualties in battle with the 11th
SS Panzer Division. This was followed with the disengagement of the
battle in Saar Basin, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we moved
into strategic reserve to defend Sheaf. Our next conflict was the
Battle of the Bulge, then the Battle of the Ziegfried Line and from
there the drive to Koflenz and the crossing of the Moselle, with the
subsequent conquest of Koblenz. From this point we crossed the
Rhine, drove across Germany and liberated Orhdruf and Buchenwald
prison camps. Our mission concluded in Czechoslovakia at the end of
the war. I spent 154 days on the front lines.
Pedersen and Company during Battle of the Bulge, Germany; photos
courtesy of Edgar Pedersen
Camp Encounter: For me, personally describing and discussing World War II is
very difficult. The cold, the snow, lack of food, and constantly
living with death and dying was unbearable. My encounters with
actual German prisoners was limited, but I was an active part of the
liberation of Camp Ohrdruf, near Stutzhaus, Germany. This camp held
primarily American soldiers and was an experience I will never
forget. To see the joy and jubilation on the faces of the liberated
Americans is something I will never forget, but also I will never
forget the death and decay at this camp. No American should have to
be subjected to this type of treatment. My respect and admiration go
out to all American POWs.