Warren G. Sody, veteran of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, dies

Warren G. Sody, a World War II infantryman who parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day and later fought at the Battle of the Bulge at Bastonge, Belgium, died Tuesday from respiratory failure at Gilchrist Hospice in Towson.

The former Mays Chapel resident was 93.

The son of John J. Sody and Anna Christian Sody, Warren Gordon Sody was born in Baltimore and raised on Simms Avenue in Hamilton.

A 1942 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Sody enlisted in the Army in 1943. After completing basic training at Camp Harahan in New Orleans, he entered parachute school at Fort Benning, Ga.

In early 1944, Mr. Sody was sent to England and joined the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles. At 1 a.m. June 6, 1944 — D-Day — Mr. Sody, then 20, parachuted behind German lines with the 82nd Airborne Division.

"I parachuted behind enemy lines as part of the first American troops to begin the invasion of Europe by Allied troops," Mr. Sody wrote in a recollection of his wartime experiences.

"I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes," he told The Baltimore Sun in a 2000 interview. "The French people were tickled to see us."

"I fought first with the 82nd Airborne Division in liberating the French town of Sainte-Merle Eglise in Normandy, France," he wrote. "This was the first French town to be liberated by Allied troops in this land, which had been occupied by the Third Reich German government for four years."

His brother, John J. Sody, an Army lieutenant, was killed on D-Day after coming ashore at Normandy, and was buried at Sainte- Merle Eglise, France. His body was later moved to the American cemetery at St. Laurent that overlooks Omaha Beach.

Mr. Sody returned to the 101st Airborne Division after D-Day and in mid-June participated in the July 1, 1944 liberation of the Carentan in northwest France, near the port city of Cherbourg.

After briefly returning to England, Mr. Sody again entered combat on Sept. 17, 1944, when he parachuted behind enemy lines at St. Oedenrode, Holland, as part of Operation Market Garden, the ill-fated Allied military operation that resulted in defeat at Arnhem, the Netherlands.

"I fought against German troops and we opened a corridor from Eindhoven to Nijmegen, Holland, which split the German Army in two," he wrote.

Mr. Sody and his unit tried to reach a British parachute division at Arnhem, but were unsuccessful. Cornelius Ryan's book, "A Bridge Too Far," detailed the defeat at Arnhem and the failure of Market Garden, which resulted in two German panzer divisions killing 7,800 British troops.

In mid-December 1944, Mr. Sody fought at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge, when Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt hurled three German divisions on the Bastonge corridor being held by Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army.

He was wounded Dec. 30, 1944, when shrapnel tore through his helmet, injuring his head, neck, face and shoulders. Evacuated to a field hospital, he was later flown to England, and finally to the 106th Hospital in Atlantic City, N.J., where he recuperated.

Mr. Sody's decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman's Badge, French Croix de Guerre, French Gold Medal for the Normandy landing, Belgian Croix de Guerre, Belgian Fourragere, Netherlands Orange Lanyard and the Knight Order of the Legion of Honor, which he received in 2011.

Discharged with the rank of private in 1945, Mr. Sody returned to Baltimore and went to work as a lineman and installer for the old Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co.

He later advanced to engineering, sales and service departments. In 1952, he joned C&P's marketing department handling accounts with television stations and alss companies such as the old Glenn L. Martin Co., Bethlehem Steel Corp., and Westinghouse Electric Corp.

He retired in 1985.

Mr. Sody enjoyed traveling and returned often to Paris, the south of France and Normandy, where he visited his brother's grave.

"After I'd seen his grave in 1994 in France, I felt I should go home and tell people about these brave men," he told a Sun reporter in 2000.

Mr. Sody, became much in demand as a speaker at schools, colleges and other venues about his World War II days. For such events he dressed in a replica of his paratrooper uniform — with a black armband on his left arm to commemorate soldiers killed in combat, including his beloved brother.

"He wanted to share his experiences and of how very proud he was of having served in World War II," said a son, Wayne Allen Sody of White Marsh. "It was something he did later in life after retiring."

He was a member of Disabled Veterans of America, Association of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Association.

Mr. Sody's wife of 65 years, the former Anita L.Ramming, who had been the former corporate secretary and treasurer of A. W. Schmidt & Sons, died in 2013.

After his wife's death, he moved to Ocean City, where the couple owned a second home.

Reflecting on his World War II service, Mr. Sody said in the 2000 article in The Sun: "I'm nothing but a foot soldier, except we went in by parachute."

He was a member of Towson Presbyterian Church where he also taught Bible classes.

He donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board. Plans for a memorial service to be held in the future are incomplete.

In addition to his son, he is survived by another son, Steven Gordon Sody of Towson; a daughter, Lynn Eppig of Bradenton, Fla.; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

frasmussen@baltsun.com

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