I met Daniel Boone Frazier through the recommendation of a friend. My husband and I enjoyed speaking with Mr. Frazier in his home and hearing his story about being part of the ‘Iron Men of Metz.’
The story below explains this was the nickname of a group of soldiers who persevered through hard fighting in the fall of 1944 in the city of Metz, France. There is even a Facebook page for this group.
Mr. Frazier is one of 25 men included in my new book, Battle of the Bulge: Stories From Those Who Fought and Survived.
Thanks to Mr. Frazier for his service (I say that even though he is deceased) and to all of the veterans who fight for our country — past and present. We appreciate you.
In October 1944, Daniel Boone Frazier was with the 95th Infantry Division in fierce house-to-house fighting in the French town of Metz. “We didn’t think about dying,” he said. “We were focused on what we had been told to do.”
Outside the city were military forts that had already been captured before the Allies entered Metz. Frazier served as a scout. As a result of the group’s diligence and skill in holding off German troops and securing the area, they became known as the ‘Iron Men of Metz’.
Frazier was assigned as a scout. “I had hunted as a kid and could fire an M1 Garand at 500 yards,” he said. Frazier’s inclination as a soldier fighting in combat may have been genetic as his father had fought in the Spanish-American war.
Daniel Frazier was born in Kentucky in 1925 but moved with his family to Walkerton, Indiana in 1940. After one year’s deferment for farming, he was drafted into the Army.
Frazier completed basic training at Camp Blanding in Florida. “They tried to kill us with military drills,” he said. “I knew if I survived, I was ready for combat.”
In fall 1944, Frazier and thousands of other soldiers disembarked from New York Harbor for Southampton, England. His unit sailed across the English Channel to Omaha Beach in the Normandy area of France. The past June, the area had witnessed the largest sea invasion the world had ever known as part of the D-Day invasion. “The other guys and I saw a landing craft where soldiers had been killed,” said Frazier.
Assigned to Patton’s 3rd army, 377th Regular, 95th Division, Frazier and the other soldiers camped in pup tents and rode in railroad cars for two days to the Moselle River.
By Thanksgiving 1944, through periods of fierce street fighting, Frazier’s squad had secured the area around Metz. When ordered to fire on ships coming down the river, the group kept watch from a barn loft. In the warm area, the troops unloaded their packs to rest. They typically carried M1s, canteens, bandoliers, cartridge clips, two hand grenades around their necks. Their food supplies consisted of K ration kits — cans of food, crackers, coffee, and cigarettes. Occasionally their food supply was supplemented upon raiding root cellars. “We were always tired, cold, hungry,” said Frazier.
At the Saar River the Allies captured a bridge at the village of Saarlautern. “It was wired to blow and the Germans tried to detonate it to keep us from going over,” he said, “but we took care of them.”
In December, some of the coldest weather on record for that area had set in. Frazier wore a regular Class A wool shirt, sweater, pants and combat boots with no liner. “I was issued a blanket but lost it.” Frazier discovered that, good shot or not, his thumb was too cold and stiff to fire his gun.
On night that winter, the troops were ordered to ride in the back of trucks at the Belgian village of Bastogne. “There was no tarp,” he said. “It was about the coldest place I ever was in my life.”
Except for the cold weather, Frazier had good impressions of Belgium. “The people treated us like family,” he said. Once, when his unit asked at a farmhouse if they could use straw for a bed, the Belgians generously stuffed their beds with straw and offered them delicious food.
Frazier was never injured but he did get sick once when his unit was in a basement. Several soldiers started to smoke and Frazier was unable to breathe. He rode in an ambulance from the field hospital to a general hospital at Metz. “It was the first time I had slept in a bed since leaving the U.S.” He even slept through an air raid drill.
As spring arrived, the troops crossed the Rhine River in Germany. Frazier’s unit was returned to the 9th Army. Finally, in May, Germany surrendered. The war in Europe was over!
The American troops’ elation was short lived, however. “We were told we’d get a 30-day leave, then have to head to Japan to fight there,” said Frazier. However, in August 1945 Japan surrendered and those orders were rescinded. Frazier remained with the Army until June 1946. He was awarded a Bronze star for distinguishing himself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service.
Frazier returned to Walkerton where he married a nurse. He and his wife Phyllis became parents to four sons. Frazier worked as a pipe fitter journeyman. In 2000 he was awarded a diploma from John Glenn High School. He has participated with Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana.
“I think everybody should be willing to serve this country,” he said. “It would teach them respect and patriotism.”