Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

September 25, 2013

Hero fought against native land

By Pat Smith
Daily News

---- — Can’t wait to share a story about a hero this week.

First though, we enjoyed him in July and now Dan Mobley will be leaving our area soon after playing at the K of C hall this Friday, Sept. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. Pork chop dinner served starting at 5 p.m. Let’s show him we like him!

Norbert “Norb” Meyer shared this remarkable story last week about Alfons J.“Al” Felis, who came from Germany at age 18 in 1926. Joe Meyer, Norbert’s father, had Meyer Grocery at 131 W. Main St. He spoke German so Felis often stopped in Meyer’s Grocery. The two became close friends. Al Felis was a baker by trade and worked in the Kessler Bakery at 421 E. North St. Later he worked at the St. Paul Bakery. Norb said both men loved to fish and he often went with them.

“Both Al and my father loved to play Euchre and both were members of the Eagles where they played regularly. When World War II started one man always chided Al by saying things like ‘Here comes that Dutchman!’ You could see that it bothered him. He was too old to be drafted and he wasn’t even a citizen at the time.”

Norb said one night Al came in his father’s store and said he’d joined the U.S. Army. Then one night he was in the grocery when Al came home from the Army and said, ‘Joe, let’s go to the Eagles.’ Dad always closed the store at 9 p.m. but he closed at 8 p.m. that night. He and Al went to the Eagles and there sat the man that chided Al about being a Dutchman. Al reached in his coat and got out a piece of paper. It was his citizenship paper and he threw it down on the Euchre table. Then he reached in his pockets and got out all of the medals that he’d earned in the war. He threw them down on the table and there were Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and Bronze Stars.”

Norb said Al told them that one time he was 30 miles from his hometown but he couldn’t get closer because it was in Russian sector. He went to a fence and shouted out, “I’m Alfons Felis. Anybody here from Amith, Germany? .A 15 year old boy came to the fence and yelled, “Yes sir, I’m from there. I can walk out my back door into your father’s front door. I saw your father and sister six months ago. Your father is in good health and got all his teeth yet!” Al hadn’t heard from his father since 1936.

Being curious about Felis, I checked news records and found that while in the service Al was indeed wounded several times and received the Purple Hearts and Silver Star and Gold Star Medals. He was wounded while on attack across an open field. Although in need of medical attention he exposed himself to further enemy fire by giving first-aid and saved five wounded comrades by helping them to cover. He received the Purple Heart and Silver Star that time.

After recovery and back into battle he was struck in both legs while attempting to capture four Germans near Faliase, France. He dived for cover of a ditch and hurled a hand grenade wounding three of the enemy. His action at Falaise was described thus: We moved into the Falaise Gap during the night. My squad was assigned guard duty. Early morning I spotted three German soldiers, woke the other two men with me and left with the idea of taking the Germans prisoners. I caught them off guard and was about to unarm them when a fourth Nazi appeared from behind a shack. When I turned to cover him, one of the others opened fire with a revolver. I jumped in a ditch and tossed a grenade at them.

The Daily News story stated that Al’s surgeon said he was in a reconditioning program designed

to strengthen wounded soldiers before returning to duty. Al was in the thick of fighting most of the time, was wounded numerous times, and earned numerous medals.

Al, his wife and daughter later moved to Ohio. He worked as baker in Cincinnati. He died July 6, 1971. He is buried in South Park Cemetery in Greensburg. His Government Marker reads: Alfons J. Felis, Indiana, T Sgt Btry B, 721 FA BN, World War II, SS BSM PH showing that he earned Purple Heart, Silver Stars and Bronze Stars. Mike Porter put it on “Find a Grave.”

Thanks Charlie Ketchum and Norbert Meyer. A little about Norbert Meyer next week.