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WW2 KIA Purple Heart 366th US Infantry, won Silver Star
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Inscribed and numbered Purple Heart for Kenneth Watkins KIA 2/8/45, 366th US Infantry, 92nd Division, 5th Army. Watkins was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for actions on February 8, 1945, that resulted in his own death. The 366th was a segregated regiment, part of the only black division to see combat in Europe in World War Two. Watkins was born in North Carolina and enlisted in the army on 8/15/41 at Richmond, Va., giving Norfolk County as his place of residence and date of birth as 1918. He was buried in Florence, Italy. The battle in which he was killed is recounted on pages 82 to 144 of Buffalo Soldiers in Italy by Hargrove, in the chapter titled February Attack in the Coastal Sector.
Medal is the early type with flatter purple on the planchet, split brooch, numbered 471962, preserved in its case by the family along with a 92nd Division patch. The separate ribbon bar is missing and the interior of the case shows wear, but the medal is very good. The auction this came out of sold Watkins's Silver Star separately, but an inscribed Purple Heart from this unit is scarce on its own, and one from a Silver Star winner is especially so.

His citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Private First Class Kenneth Watkins (ASN: 33097773), United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with the 366th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division, in action on 8 February 1945, in Italy. Enemy sniper fire had pinned down the attacking squad of which Private First Class Watkins was a member. Observing three snipers in a gun emplacement to his front, Private First Class Watkins, without regard for personal safety and under heavy hostile artillery fire, moved out alone and threw three hand grenades into the enemy position which killed the German soldiers. As his squad resumed its advance, he noticed an enemy machine gun crew covering the side of a house. Quickly exposing himself, Private First Class Watkins shot the two enemy soldiers before they could fire their weapon. He then captured three enemy soldiers as they emerged from a dugout and turned them over to his platoon sergeant. Following this he began establishing a defensive position with his squad and while thus engaged was mortally wounded by an enemy sniper. Private First Class Watkins' intrepid gallantry and courage exemplified the heroic valor of the American Soldier.
General Orders: Headquarters, 92d Infantry Division, General Orders No. 15 (April 22, 1945)

Action Date: World War II
Service: Army
Rank: Private First Class
Regiment: 366th Infantry Regiment
Division: 92d Infantry Division

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