Private First Class Julius M. Vajda served with the 30th Infantry Division, 119th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. After landing in Normandy on July 10, 1944, his unit was active in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. He received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
The 30th Infantry Division spearheaded the St Lo breakthrough and was the first unit of the Allied troops to enter Belgium and Holland. In July 1944 they were involved in one of the war’s most memorable actions, the St. Lo breakthrough in France. Although the 29th Infantry Division is credited with the victory at St. Lo, it has been noted that without the 30th Infantry Division’s assistance it would have taken much longer, and at a greater loss of life. Julius received the Bronze Star for meritorious conduct on July 29, 1944.
“While his company was engaging the enemy, Private Vajda was given the mission of taking valuable information and establishing contact with the second platoon of his unit. While enroute to his objective, he was subjected to the intense enemy fire and forced to seek cover in a nearby fox hole. Upon reaching the fox hole he found it was already occupied by a German soldier, but through his alertness and initiative he took the enemy soldier prisoner. As soon as the enemy fire had subsided, through hampered with the custody of the enemy prisoner, he continued on to successfully complete his assigned task.” (Click Here to See a Copy of the Original Citation)
Julius came from family that served others; his sister Rose was an Army nurse and sister Margaret was a WAVE. The Vajda family paid a heavy price during World War II, losing two children within a year. Margaret, who served as a Pharmacist Mate in the Navy, was killed when her plane crashed at Olathe Naval Air Station in Kansas on February 26, 1944. Less than a year later Julius was killed in Belgium around the time of the battle of St. Vith at the Battle of the Bulge on January 14, 1945. He was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium but his remains were later returned to the United States to be re-buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
A special thanks to Samantha Anderson (Julius’ niece) and the Vajda family for providing additional information about Julius.