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Legion posthonors quiet hero of WWII

Legion post honors

quiet hero of WWII


Hour correspondent

     NORWALK CT — Milton E. Buchta Sr. was a shy man, explained his widow on Sunday. So shy, said Anne Pirrone Buchta, that after meeting her for the first time at a Halloween party, Milton had the friend who introduced them, Johnny Doullens, call her to ask if she would go on a date with him.

     Asked if she accepted, Buchta said, "As long as Lil Doullens and Johnny's brother Homer — they knew Milt real good, too — came along. So the four of us went out."

     Milton Buchta's shyness did not keep him from winning the Silver Star and Oak Leaf Cluster for gallantry during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The citation issued with his award said that, as a member of the 99th "Checkerboard" Division in Germany on April 8, 1945, PFC Buchta used a machine gun to repulse two enemy counter-attacks and inflict heavy enemy casualties.

     "Buchta's gallantry in action and devotion to duty," the citation continued, "merits the highest praise, and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the armed forces."

     Buchta later participated in crossing Germany's Rhine and Danube rivers, leading to the conclusion of the war.

     A Norwalk native who lived most of his adult life on Bartlett Street, Buchta's heroism was honored Sunday at the Frank C. Godfrey American Legion Post 12 on County Street, which named him its "Veteran of the Month."

     With Buchta having served in Ireland, England, France, Belgium, and Germany, said Anne, "He had so many points because of his two Silver Stars and his two and a half years overseas, he was on the first boat getting out of Germany."

     Buchta's shyness during 30 years of marriage also kept him from describing his actions during the war, Ann said. "He didn't like to talk about it. But one time I did hear him say he killed nine Germans. But like he would say, 'It was them or me.'"

     "Sometimes I would get bits and pieces (of his story) when he would be talking to some of his friends or his brother (William)," she said. His brother Bill was in the paratroopers. Loaded with shrapnel. They honored him last year."

     Upon being discharged from the Army, Buchta worked as a machinist at Normal Hoffman Ball Bearings in Stamford.

     His mother died when he was young, said Anne, and his father abandoned him and left with another woman. "So his uncle and his grandmother raised him, so he came back to help support them."

     Sunday's ceremony included raising the American flag that draped Buchta's casket at his funeral.

     "I started to cry," said Anne. "That flag hasn't been unfurled in 25 years."

     Buchta died Sept. 11, 1976, at age 55.

     Since remarried and now Anne Yaeger, she said she would be buried with Milton in St. John's Cemetery upon her death, and her current husband, James, would be buried with his first wife, also deceased.

     Post 12 honors a veteran the first Sunday of each month at a ceremony open to the public.