The Corner

We Were Honored to Have Him

This comes from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

(July 17, 200:6) — The Rev. Elmer Heindl, one of the most highly decorated chaplains in World War II, died this morning at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Father Heindl turned 96 on June 14. Since 2004, he resided at Legacy at Park Crescent, a senior living facility in Greece. But he had been in Strong’s burn unit since March, after he fell in a shower at the facility and sustained burns while lying in warm water for an unknown period of time, said Legacy Director Rob Goodyear.

Goodyear described Father Heindl as “a unique man in many ways, with a remarkably incredible history.

“His main concern was his ministry and serving people around him,” Goodyear said.

Father Heindl, who was born and reared in Rochester, graduated from St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary. A Catholic priest since 1936, Heindl enlisted as a chaplain in March 1942.

“High school members of my St. Andrew parish were being drafted,” he said during a 2000 celebration of his life and his Flag Day birthday, at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Greece. “They needed someone to care for them.”

Father Heindl was awarded the Bronze Star in 1944 for assisting in the burial of American dead and ministering to the wounded while under fire in Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. In 1945, he received the Silver Star for helping wounded American soldiers in Luzon in the Philippines, in 1943 while under heavy Japanese tank and mortar fire on two occasions.

He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest combat medal, for his “extraordinary heroism in action” under heavy machine-gun fire during street fighting in Manila, Philippines, in 1945.

According to newspaper articles that year, Father Heindl entered a Bilibid Prison watchtower under fire to offer prayers for a dying soldier, then carried the body out. He returned to the tower and carried a wounded man through Japanese fire to safety. Two days later, he crawled through enemy rocket and mortar fire to drag a wounded officer to an aid station. He carried other casualties to safety and administered last rites to the dying, the newspaper reported.

But Father Heindl discounted talk of heroism.

“I went down there to do my duty as a (n Army) chaplain, and that’s what saved me,” he told a reporter in 1987. The Distinguished Service Cross “doesn’t add one bit to my stature. Whatever happened was none of my doing whatsoever.”…

More here.

Hat tip: northshorejournal

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