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Kenneth I. Hatcher

331st Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division

Private, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Wisconsin

Died:

7/26/1944

Grave Location:

Plot C, Row 16, Grave 33

Pvt. Kenneth Hatcher was a member of the 83rdInfantry “Thunderbolt” Division. As a young man from Pardeeville, Wis., Hatcher was 27 years old when he enlisted. He then had to say good-bye to his two young children, Kay and Donald, and his pregnant wife.

Pvt. Kenneth I. Hatcher.
Hatcher in uniform with his family at their farm in Wisconsin.

On July 4, 1944, the 83rdInfantry Division began an offensive along the Carentan-Periers road, with the entire division artillery in support. The assault against the German 17thSS Division and 6thParachute Regiment was costly; the Germans knew the routes the 83rdwould take, and fought from concealed positions dug beneath the hedgerows. The 83rdadvanced toward the Taute River in the pouring rain. On July 10, the 331stInfantry Regiment captured Sainteny, and on July 15, the 83rdregrouped along the Ays River. Their position put them on the front lines for what would be Operation Cobra.

Hatcher's wife, Liz with their three kids - Kay, Donald, and Bill - at the park in the early 1940s.
Hatcher's last letter to his family dated August 10, 1944.
A soldier of the 331st Infantry, 83rd Infantry Division running across a Normandy road near Periers on July 21, 1944.

Hatcher was a new replacement, arriving at the front lines on July 24.  He was a strong, powerful man and carried a heavy Browning Automatic Rifle into combat. Operation Cobra began the next morning.  Hatcher was killed on July 26 when the 331stInfantry Regiment was ordered to attack through a swampy area near Sainteny.  He was hit by German machine-gun fire from a farmer’s field.

Memorial to the 83rd Infantry Division on the main road to Sainteny.

Awards: Purple Heart

Kenneth I. Hatcher is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot C, Row 16, Grave 33.