Melvin ‘Bud’ Biddle was a soft-spoken young man who adored pretty Leona, his childhood sweetheart. War tore him away from his quiet Midwest town and plunged him in the middle of the ferocious fight for the Belgian Ardennes. Much to his own surprise, Bud returned home a hero.
Anderson, Indiana, was named after a pioneer whose father was Swedish and whose mother belonged to a native American tribe. It was a small and unassuming place surrounded by farmland. But Melvin ‘Bud’ Biddle found everything he wanted in his hometown. He held a high-school degree, had good times with his girlfriend Leona, and worked at Delco Remy, the town’s biggest employer and the manufacturer of motor parts for cars.
The Second World War abruptly changed all that. Suddenly Bud was shipped overseas and sent into combat as a replacement with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Ardennes. Around Christmas, his company was sent out to help rescue Americans trapped near Hotton. Bud barely had time to process what was happening around him. Within minutes, he saw his sergeant get killed with a shot through the head. Next, he was made the lead scout for his company. Bud pushed his way through snow and underbrush, killed three snipers, eliminated four machine-gun nests, and helped destroy two German tanks. Early in 1945, Bud was struck in the neck by shrapnel that just missed a jugular vein. He was rushed to a hospital in England. It was there that he learned he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest American award for courage under fire.
After the war, Bud hurried home to marry his sweetheart Leona. “I’m not a hero,” he told a newspaper. “When the Army put me out front, you think about that responsibility instead of the fear.”