German pillboxes and heavy mining exacted their toll of Patch's and Patton's soldiers. Four examples of Army Medal of Honor citations won by Third and Seventh Army soldiers show the incredible bravery and self-sacrifice American soldiers once more exhibited in the face of the determined German defenses. Pfc. Silvestre S. Herrera, Company E, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division, single-handedly rushed a strongpoint that had stopped his platoon's advance. He took the position and captured eight Germans. As Herrera's platoon resumed its advance it again came under fire. Once more Herrera rushed forward, this time through a minefield, to attack the enemy. He stepped on a mine, severing both of his feet. In spite of his severe wounds, he kept up his accurate rifle fire until his fellow soldiers could take the strongpoint. Two medics, Pvt. William D. McGee, 304th Infantry, 76th Division, and Pfc. Frederick C. Murphy, 259th Infantry, 65th Infantry Division, both died after they knowingly entered minefields to rescue wounded comrades. Capt. Jack L. Treadwell, commander of Company F. 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division, was leading his company against the Siegfried Line near Nieder-Wurzbach when it became pinned down by heavy enemy fire. Treadwell went forward alone, armed with his submachine gun and hand grenades. In a determined attack, he knocked out six pillboxes and captured eighteen prisoners. In the wake of Treadwell's one-man offensive, an inspired Company F swept through the remaining German positions and created a breach in the Siegfried Line that opened the way to its battalion's objective.
As German defenses crumbled, the Seventh Army gained momentum and broke through the West Wall defenses on 20 March and was beginning to overrun the Saar-Palatinate triangle. The next day, Seventh Army and Third Army units met. Their pincer movement had destroyed the German Seventh Army, and left the First Army, the only German force west of the Rhine, in desperate straits. Moreover, Patton reported that all three of his corps had reached the Rhine.
On 21 March a massive Allied ground force thus lay poised along the Rhine from Arnhem to Switzerland. Eisenhower's awesome armies, containing some 4.5 million personnel, included ninety divisions that anxiously awaited the final drive into the heart of the Nazi Reich. The Rhineland Campaign had ended; the final campaign for Central Europe was about to begin.
Page 22 (The Rhineland)