Chief of Staff, 11th Airborne Division - KIA
December 7, 1908 – Feb 4, 1945 (KIA, Age 36) - gravesite
Citations: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, the American Defense Medal
Unit Nickname: "Schimmel"
Colonel Irvin Schimmelpfennig (018046) married Elizabeth Stokes Miller on September 5, 1934 at the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Proctor, Rutland, Vermont. They had three children together: Anne, Louise and Paul.
Colonel Schimmelpfennig was killed outside during the 11th Airborne Division's fight to liberate Manila, Luzon, Philippines. While outside Parañaque, the Colonel moved forward to assess the damaged bridge when he came upon Major Henry Burgess’ who was fighting near the bridge when he watched “Schimmel” arrive in a jeep. Schimmel calmly walked to Burgess' position to ask why the men were being held up. Burgess pointed towards a Japanese “Woodpecker” Type-92 machine gun firing from the cathedral balcony and Schimmel moved to cross the open street for a look when the enemy gunner cut the very exposed officer down.
The Humphrey, Nebraska-native was carried into a house by A Company’s 2LTs Glenn D. “Buzz” Covert and Walter Hettlinger where medics pronounced the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star recipient dead.
General Robert Eichelberger wrote to Schimmelpfennig’s wife, Elizabeth, “During the entire campaign he was the ‘sparkplug’ of the attack and the inspiration of the men. His devotion to duty, his bravery and his outstanding leadership are proud heritages for you to keep”.
Major-General Joseph May Swing also wrote Elizabeth, saying, “We have put him to rest in the little town of Nasugbu. It’s a lovely place and he lies there in the midst of 300 of his comrades.”
One Angel who took Schimmel’s death particularly hard was the 511th’s Colonel Orin. D. "Hard Rock" Haugen who had been Schimmelpfennig’s friend since West Point. While those closest to Haugen remember him saying he may soon share Schimmel’s fate, they chalked it up to grief over his friend’s death. Unfortunately, Rock’s premonition was prophetic and he would soon join Schimmel as another casualty of the war.
To honor Irvin's memory, during the 11th Airborne Division’s occupation of Japan the Angels named their Sendai post Camp Irvin R. Schimmelpfennig.
Ranks: Col. Schimmelpfennig was born in Platte County, Nebraska and attended the U.S. Military Academy beginning July 1, 1926, reached the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery on June 12, 1930, then 1st Lieutenant on August 1, 1935 and Captain on June 12, 1940. Irvin was made a major on February 12, 1942, then Lieutenant Colonel on September 15, 1942 and finally full-Colonel on July 17, 1944.
To learn more about Irvin's historic unit and the intrepid men who fought in it, you can order Jeremy C. Holm's new book, WHEN ANGELS FALL: From Toccoa to Tokyo, The 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II by visiting our online store or purchasing a copy wherever books are sold.