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Harrison C. Summers
Born (1918-07-12)July 12, 1918
Died August 3, 1983(1983-08-03) (aged 65)
Place of birth Marion County, West Virginia, U.S.A.
Place of death Rivesville, West Virginia, U.S.A.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1942-1945
Rank US-O2 insignia.svg 1st Lieutenant
Unit 1st Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Service Cross

Harrison C. Summers (July 12, 1918 – August 3, 1983) was a United States Army soldier and a decorated war veteran. He served with the 1st Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in World War II.

Early life

Summers was born in Marion County, West Virginia, the youngest of two sons to William L. Summers and Florence Swisher.[1]

Summers worked as a coal miner in Rivesville, West Virginia. A highway bridge there is named in his honor.[citation needed]

Military service

On June 6, 1944, Summers landed as part of the first night drop of troops during the American airborne landings in Normandy. His unit had captured Saint-Germain-de-Varreville, France, near Exit 4 off Utah Beach. Summers and 15 soldiers were ordered by 1st Battalion commander, Lt Col. Patrick Cassidy, to capture a building complex nearby designated "WXYZ" on the field order map. The buildings turned out to be the barracks for 100 or more German soldiers.[2]

Summers led the attack, charging inside with his Thompson submachine gun. He had ordered the others to follow, however only Private William Burt and Private John Camien followed him while the other soldiers stayed behind.[3] He and the two others cleared out the buildings. Five hours later, the position was clear, and Summers killed more than 30 German soldiers.[4]

Summers received an honorable discharge on November 30, 1945, as a 1st Lieutenant. Summers was twice nominated for the Medal of Honor for his efforts that day, however was instead awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. World War II historian Stephen Ambrose described him this way:[5]

"Summers is a legend with American paratroopers..., the Sergeant York of World War II. His story has too much John Wayne/Hollywood in it to be believed, except that more than 10 men saw and reported his exploits."


Summers died of lung cancer on August 3, 1983. He was buried in Beverly Hills Memorial Park in Morgantown, West Virginia.[1] After his death, his friends and fellow soldiers tried to get him posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor; however the effort failed.[5]


  • Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30, in which the character Sergeant Matt Baker is modelled on Summers and "WXYZ", as well as Purple Heart Lane/Cole's Charge.[6]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Harrison C. Summers at Find A
  2. Gamespot Paratrooper of the Week - Harrison C. Summers
  3. Harrison Summers: The Sergeant York of World War II
  4. Harrison, Gordon A. (1951 [updated: 2002]). "The Sixth of June (Chapter 8)". Cross-Channel Attack. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 281. OCLC 317512277. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ambrose, Stephen E. (1994). D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 299. ISBN 0-684-80137-X. 
  6. Berardini, César A. (June 14, 2007). "Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway Comic Series Announced". IGN Entertainment, Inc.. 

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