Pylesville World War II veteran honored for service on 90th birthday

Members of the Grande View community in Pylesville gathered Saturday, June 7, to honor their friend and neighbor, Jim Bradley Sr., a World War II veteran whose 90th birthday fell on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion a day earlier.

The D-Day invasion, known officially as Operation Overlord, took place June 6, 1944, when Bradley turned 20 years old.

Bradley was not among the more than 100,000 American, British and Canadian troops who parachuted into or hit the beaches of northern France with the goal of liberating Western Europe from its German occupiers.

He did, however, as a private with the Army's 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, take part in the liberation of Paris, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and participated in the invasion of Germany in the final months of the war.

"Everyone who was there, it was a moment that we're so glad that we took and we captured to honor Jim for his service to the country and community," Ed Ducote, president of the Grande View Farms Improvement Association, said Thursday.

About 50 people, including Grande View residents and Bradley's family, attended the event, which was put on by members of the community.

Bradley was driven to the ceremony in a World War II jeep by friend and neighbor Bill Ward, and he received recognitions from the community association, his unit and a proclamation from Harford County Executive David Craig's office.

County Councilman Chad Shrodes, who represents northern Harford County, also made a presentation, Ducote said.

Bradley also received a shadow box display that contained the multiple honors he earned during the war, including a Purple Heart when he was wounded in action fighting in the German Rhineland.

Stephanie Ducote, Ed's wife, made the shadow box for Bradley.

Bradley earned five battle stars, or military recognitions for participating in specific campaigns in the European Theater, according to a history provided by Ward.

The campaigns included Normandy, when Bradley's unit provided reconnaissance for the 1st Infantry Division as its soldiers fought through the hedgerow country of northern France during the Allied breakout from its beachhead at Normandy.

The second battle star was for the Northern France campaign to liberate Paris; the third was for the Rhineland campaign along the German border, when Bradley was wounded; the fourth was for the Ardennes campaign, when the Germans made a massive, yet unsuccessful, counterattack against Allied forces massed in eastern Belgium near the German border.

The 38th earned a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the Battle of the Bulge in Monschau, Germany, by keeping German troops away from the local road network, according to Ward's history of Bradley.

The fifth battle star was for the Central Europe campaign in Germany proper, where the unit conducted "mopping-up actions" against the German military and made contact with Soviet troops who invaded the eastern half of the country.

"He gave a lot to the war effort and has asked nothing from our government," Ward wrote of Bradley. "He is a member of our greatest generation to which we owe our security and our way of life. Today we know him simply as Mr. Jim – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

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