Medic, Company D, 511th PIR
October 11, 1923 - Jan 30, 2012 (Age 88) - obituary
Citations: Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Philippine Liberation Medal with service star, the American Defense Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Battle Star and one Arrowhead
Unit Nickname: "Al" or "Doc"
Al Haar, Company D Medic
By Kristi Haar Hoover
With additions of his war experiences by Andy Carrico and others
From Kristi Haar-Hoover, Al's daughter:
“I am going to come from the heart while talking about Dad and Mom and give you as much information as I can. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers to the questions you asked, but I’ll do my best.
Dad was born February 24, in Freeman, South Dakota. He was the youngest of 5 boys. His mother passed away at the age of 42, when Dad was ten, leaving his dad to raise five sons. He did a wonderful job!
Dad was a great point guard for the Freeman High School basketball team , so everyone tells me. They won 60 games and lost only 5 during his 3 years of playing on the team. He was also a very good fast pitch softball player.
Dad enrolled in Yankton College and after two years, he decided to board a train, without his father’s knowledge, for Tripp, South Dakota, the military induction headquarters, where he signed voluntary enlistment papers, hoping to go into the Navy. Several days later, when he arrived for his Navy physical, he was informed that the Navy quota was filled. Since he had signed voluntary enlistment papers, he was called in the next Army draft. He was sworn into the Army on February 19, 1943. After basic training, Dad applied for a transfer to the Air Corps and also to the Paratroops. Both transfers came through at the same time, so he chose the Air Corps. He then found out that the Air Corps had enough pilots and navigators. He again put in for a transfer to the Paratroopers and was accepted. I think you all know what followed….
1st Lt. Andy Carrico, Company D 1st Platoon Leader, recalls:
My memories of Al go back many years, through the Army Airborne and into Luzon, Philippine Islands. Al came into our unit as a replacement after the Leyte Campaign, late January 1945. He was assigned to D Company, my 1st Platoon, which was when I first met him. He remained there for the remainder of the war, including the Occupation of Japan.
After the jump on Luzon, we had many casualties. I was wounded during the battle of Mt. Bijang, …”13 March 1945: My time came early in the afternoon, around 2:00 pm, as I recall. I was lying in a Japanese foxhole firing, when suddenly I knew that I had been shot. I don’t recall a lot of pain, just “knew I’d been hit.” I was next to Capt. Steve Cavanaugh, and called our “Steve, I’ve been hit!” A Japanese machine-gunner was the culprit. Al Haar, our medic, was a very busy fellow that day! Nineteen of us were killed or wounded. Al got to me; gave me a shot of morphine, and somebody helped me off that mountain. Then we all left soon after that, carrying our wounded and dead back for four or five miles to ambulances. The ambulances took us to the aid stations, where our wounds were cleaned and dressed. Things were kinda fuzzy for me for a time after that. For me, the was was over! That was the last time I saw Al Haar until we met at a Division Reunion in Clearwater, Florida, many years later!”
I wrote the following:
RECOMMENDATION FOR BRONZE STAR - LUZON
PFC Haar was performing his duty as Platoon Aid Man when the platoon was in the attack when three men were wounded by machine gun fire. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, PFC Haar crawled forward, gave first aid to the three wounded men while under fire and then succeeded in evacuating them back to the rear. PFC Haar’s heroic action was an inspiration to all his fellow soldiers and aided materially in the Platoon being able to continue the advance.
1st Lt Andrew Carrico III
1st Platoon Leader 1945
After the war, I tried for many years to locate Al, never realizing until 1977 that there was such a thing as the Airborne Association. Once I joined that, and Jane and I began taking trips to those reunions, I always checked the Registration list to see if I could spot Al. It was just a matter of time until we located Al and Jo Ann in Clearwater, Florida. The year was 1983. I shouted excitedly across the room to Jane: “The Haars are here!”. What fun to become reacquainted with Al after all those years, and for both of us to meet Jo Ann for the first time! We all vowed not to miss another chance to be together. We had so many wonderful times with them after that, visited in each other’s homes, and took trips together. (Andy Carrico)
….Al’s recollection of Mt Bijang:
“I Company had failed taking Mt. Bijang – several days later “D” Company was to support “I” Company in taking the Mountain. We left the “Sugar Mill” and on our way up, a number of “D” Company people were wounded. Before getting to the top, stretcher cases were sent back, and in some cases carried by the less seriously wounded. Three of our wounded died by the time they got to the ambulances at the bottom of the hill.
“I” Company also had people wounded and turned back, leaving one of the medics assigned to them for dead.
Our Company Commander, Steve Cavanaugh, led “D” Company to the top of the mountain.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose. The Japs attacked us on two sides and were attempting to get behind us to seal off any retreat. Within minutes, three of our officers, Lt. Osmun, Lt. Carrico and Capt. Cavanaugh were wounded; Capt. Cavanaugh received a flesh wound in his back and a bullet hole in his helmet, miraculously not causing a head wound.
At this time, the order to withdraw was given. The medic who was left fore dead by “I” Company was found alive outside of our perimeter at the “Sugar Mill”, three days later. His wound was crawling with maggots, but this probably saved his life. The Japs had taken his wrist watch and field pack, also thinking he was dead.
This is my recollection of Mt. Bijang; probably different than others will report.
When reviewing our casualty list, Lt. Carrico is listed as LWA (lightly wounded in action). Andy would probably disagree with this as he spent nine months in the hospital recovering from his shoulder and hand wound.”
…Returning to Kristi Haar-Hoover’s story:
“After Dad was discharged, he went to work for his father, a John Deere Implement dealer. After his father passed away, he purchased the implement dealership which was established in 1882 by his Grandfather.
Soon after Dad’s discharge from the Army, he met Mom, whom he ADORED! She came to visit relatives in Freeman from Denver, Colorado, her hometown. She and Dad had a brief courtship, and Dad proposed and Mom accepted. They were married on 28 November 1948 and started their family ..2 sons and 3 daughters.
The following photograph of Al and Jo Ann was made circa 1948.
Dad retired in 1993 and passed away in 1995. His death was a result of a fall while putting the canopy on his boat lift. He was paralyzed from the neck down. He passed away six days after his accident. I remember how touched our family was when Andy Carrico came to see Dad in the hospital. Dad took one look at Andy and mouthed “My Buddy”.. And that is exactly how he and Mom felt about his fellow paratroopers. You were all dear friends.
Our lives were again sadly touched by Mom’s death just thirteen months later. She died as the result of a brain aneurysm.
This terrible loss was much too soon, as we were still having difficulty with the loss of Dad. They were the GREATEST in our eyes. Because of how they raised the five of us, I feel we have all had successful and fulfilling lives, whether it be through our jobs or our family. I know Dad and Mom would be proud of us!
Jim, the oldest is married to Deb and lives in Freeman. He now owns the John Deere Implement. They have two sons, one of which will someday be the next generation to run the family business. Bob, the second oldest, is also married. He and his wife Lois have one daughter and are very soon expecting their first grandchild. They live in Yankton, South Dakota and Bob owns the John Deere Implement there. The third, Patti, lives in Janesville, Wisconsin, with her husband, Dick. They have two grown sons and adore their granddaughter, Ashley. Then there is Julie. She, too, married and has three children. She and her husband, Jim live in Tea, South Dakota. I am the youngest of the five children. I am married to Jay Hoover and we also have three children. We live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The three things most important to our parents were God, family, and our Country. Dad was a very humble person and would not boast at all about his accomplishments, but I am proud to say that he and Mom lived their lives according to what was important to them. They had a strong faith, they cherished their family, and Dad served his Country. Those are accomplishments we are all proud of.
YOUR ARE ALL HEROES! I KNOW THAT BECAUSE Dad and Mom cherished each and every one of you!
Thank you for not forgetting our parents, as you collect your stories of “D” Company. I know your annual get-togethers was something they always looked forward to.
If any of you ever get to South Dakota, please don’t hesitate to look us up!
P.S. I am including a couple of pictures of Dad and Mom. The early one is from when they first met, and the second was taken just before they died. (It’s my favorite picture of them!) As you can see, they always had fun together and enjoyed each other’s company.”
Testimonials to Al Haar’s bravery by other D Company Troopers:
Cpt. Steve Cavanaugh, Company Commander wrote:
Mt. Bijang: …”I recall at the time that our casualties were mounting, and the enemy was continuing to place direct fire along the entire front line. I looked up and the air and one time and could actually see the incoming rounds. Our return fire was intense and I began to get reports of a serious shortage of ammunition. I asked regiment for an urgent re-supply of ammunition but realized that any such support would be a long time in arriving. About this time, the radio operator turned to say something to me and took a bullet through the mouth. A report came from the first platoon that Lt Osmun, it’s Platoon leader had been hit in the head and lost an eye, and that there were many wounded. Our medics were doing their usual magnificent job, but there was a limit to their resources and numbers…”
Cpl. William Walter, D Company Mailman, wrote:
“Guess I don’t have to tell you about Al Haar. I would like to give some of my sentiments as I think about combat medics. They are a breed of men by themselves. They do one of the bravest acts that can be done in the service, because the minute a wounded person calls for them, they go without hesitation, forgetting the fact that they are in the line of fire – the same line of fire that wounded the person they are tending to. I have a special regard for anybody who was a combat medic, and Al Haar was a special one, you all know that.”
Kristi Haar Hoover
Typed by Jane Carrico
Published in WINDS ALOFT Issue 76 Summer 2006
If you would like to learn more about Al's exploits within and the history of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II, please consider purchasing a copy of the book WHEN ANGEL'S FALL: FROM TOCCOA TO TOKYO, THE 511TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT IN WORLD WAR II, available in the regimental online store, on Amazon or wherever military history books are sold.