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The depth of bravery

Swimming pool honors 2nd ID soldier

Kimbro pool on JBLM. Photo credit:

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One building named in honor of a recipient of the Medal of Honor houses a facility named in honor of another recipient of the nation's highest military honor.

On Joint Base Lewis-McChord and within the McVeigh Sports and Fitness Center -- named in honor of Sgt. John McVeigh -- is Kimbro Pool, named in honor of Technician 4th Class Truman Kimbro.

Like McVeigh, Kimbro is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

He entered the world in the usual way in May 1919 in a small town named Madisonville in a large state called Texas. Not much is known about Kimbro's youth, other than the fact that he was working as a farm hand in 1941 when he decided to enlist in the United States Army.

After initial training, he was assigned as a scout to C Company, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He received more training in Northern Ireland in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

On June 7, 1944, the 2nd ID, under the command of Maj. Gen. Walter Robertson, came ashore at Omaha Beach.

There was a hope then that with the American and allied landings and the liberation of Europe from German control that the war in Europe would be over by Christmas.

But hope died Dec. 16 when the German army launched an offensive in Belgium's Ardennes forest. The dogs of hell had slipped their leashes -- the Battle of the Bulge was a merciless fight in paralyzing cold and snow.

In the middle of it, the 2nd ID was ordered to hold the line at Elsenborn Ridge.

In doing so, the unit wrote large the words "Second to None."

"What the 2nd Infantry Division has done in the last four days will live forever in the history of the United States Army," Lt. Gen. Courtney Hodges, 1st Army commanding general, sent via telegram to Robertson.

In those four days -- Dec. 16-19, 1944 -- six 2nd ID soldiers earned the Medal of Honor.  Four of the six were awarded for their actions; two made the ultimate sacrifice.

One was Kimbro.

On the last day of the four days of which Hodges' wrote, Kimbro led a squad of soldiers on a mission to mine a crossroads near the town of Rocherath. When approaching the objective, Kimbro noted a German tank with approximately two dozen infantrymen occupying it.

The withering fire from the Germans drove Kimbro's squad back. Two more attempts to reach the objective failed.

Leaving his soldiers in a protected area, Kimbro loaded himself down with mines and began to crawl back toward the crossroads. Spotted by the Germans, he was shot and wounded.

Determined to complete the mission, Kimbro continued on and laid his mines. As he attempted to crawl away, Kimbro was riddled by rifle and machine-gun fire and killed.

Five months later, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

"The mines laid by his act of indomitable courage delayed the advance of enemy armor and prevented the rear of our withdrawing columns from being attacked by the enemy," concludes the citation.

Kimbro Pool honors his sacrifice and is one more chapter in the 100-year history of JBLM.

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