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A West Palm Beach Boy Who Went to War and Became a Hero

Pratt & Whitney employees were invited to submit stories regarding family connection to World War II. Over the course of the upcoming year, this story, along with others, will be shared to appreciate and honor those who have served and their families.

Many of us know veterans who are reluctant to talk to family and friends about their wartime service. Elmer Newman, father of Barbara DeLoreto, a configuration manager in West Palm Beach, Florida, was not one of them.

Born and raised in West Palm Beach, Newman was drafted into the U.S. Army at the age of 18. He had never driven a car before and learned how by driving a jeep in Germany.

"My dad had many stories of his time serving in Germany, France and England during World War II," DeLoreto said. "He spent countless hours and days in fox holes hiding from the enemy, always being wet and cold and talked about the not-so-tasty food rations. He used to tell us the best advice his sergeant ever gave him was, 'Keep your socks dry.' He was proud to have served and liked to talk about it. Growing up, my son loved to hear his stories."

A treasured memento that DeLoreto has from her dad's war days is a yellowed newspaper clipping from The Palm Beach Post-Times that ran when he was 19. It reads:

"The Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement against the enemy was awarded recently to U.S. Army Private First Class Elmer E. Newman, Route 1, city, for deeds March 15, 1945 in Germany as a member of the 99th Infantry Division. Pfc. Newman, reconnoitering ahead of forward elements of an attacking force, observed an enemy force assembled near a farm house. The sound of his weapon as he killed two Germans brought his unit, which deployed and forced the enemy troops to surrender after a brief fire fight."

"Pfc. Elmer Newman, city, has been totaling up his discharge points lately with a longing eye on the nearest separation center. He was pleasantly surprised the other day to learn that he had been awarded the Bronze Star medal for patrol action in Germany – plus five points toward a discharge. He read about it in The Post-Times."

"It's so hard to believe that a 19-year-old went through that," DeLoreto said. She noted that her grandparents actually had five sons and all were in the war. One was shot and paralyzed, but all five came home.

DeLoreto's mother still has her husband's Bronze Star medal. Newman did eventually accumulate enough points, was discharged before the end of the war and became a fireman for 25 years, rising to the rank of captain. Elmer Newman died in 2011 and is buried in the South Florida National Cemetery in West Palm Beach.

"I am so very proud of him," DeLoreto said. "It's amazing that someone that young who had never been out of West Palm Beach, went off to a foreign country to fight a war and get shot at. I can't imagine how scared he must have been. It was a different time."

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