Sunday, August 16, 2009

Around Town: Sgt Lewis Salmon

He had an exciting childhood. In 1930, 13-year-old Lewis Salmon lived in Pasadena with his mother Ruth L. Salmon and sister, 16 year-old Ruth M. Salmon.

Within the year, the family would move to La Cañada, to a fine house on Castle Road in what is now the “Sagebrush” district.

The circumstances caused a bit of scandal. The mother, Ruth, had been hired by one Harry Felch to take care of Helen, his sickly wife. A few months later, Mrs. Felch filed a lawsuit against Mrs. Salmon, alleging alienation of affection. Mrs. Felch claimed $25,000 in damages and the case went to trial.

Harry and Helen got divorced. Harry and Ruth got married. Young Lewis graduated from Glendale High School and attended Glendale City College.

When Lewis met Wilma McAlister, he started his own life. They were married. They built a home in the 4600 block of Lasheart in La Cañada. In early 1943, a son was born to Lewis and Wilma. They named him Larry.

Meanwhile, the war was raging. On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. By September 1943, Lewis Salmon enlisted in the United States Army. By July of 1944, Sgt. Lewis Salmon went overseas with a tank squad.

In August of 1944, Gen. Courtney Hicks Hodges succeeded Gen. Omar Bradley and was given command of the First Army.

Sgt. Salmon was assigned to the U.S. Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Armored Division, which lost more tanks than any other American division in World War II. It underwent 231 days of combat. A total of 2,540 killed, 7,331 wounded, 95 missing and 139 captured.

Sgt. Salmon participated in four major battles with “Hodges First Army.” These units were the first to reach Paris, France, and he led them through Germany. They fought the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and had a major role in the Battle of the Bulge.

On Jan. 26, 1945, Sgt. Salmon’s family received a telegram, which stated that he had been slightly wounded and was recuperating at a hospital in Belgium. On Feb. 17, 1945, a second telegram stated that he had died on Jan. 8, 1945, of wounds received in battle.

The name of the battle was not specified, but it most likely was during the last days of the Battle of the Bulge, a German offensive also known as the Ardennes Offensive in the mountains of Belgium that took place between Dec. 16, 1944, and Jan. 25, 1945.

Sgt. Salmon was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster. He is buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. (Plot C, Row 11, Grace 44). He was 28 years old. He left his wife Wilma and son Larry. Ten years later, another tragedy struck the family. Ruth and Harry Felch were killed in an automobile accident. They were buried together on June 18, 1955.

Next year, on Memorial Day, we hope to include the name of Sgt. Lewis Arthur Salmon, of Lasheart Drive, and the names of other fallen heroes on plaques in Memorial Park, La Cañada Flintridge.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at 
Published Thursday, August 13, 2009
La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

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