WARRIOR WEDNESDAY: LTC MATT "THE GHOST" URBAN
A #warriorwednesday on a WW2 badass is appropriate being that we kicked off the Normandy invasion in the month of June, but our subject was stacking Germany bodies long before the Allied Forces' foray into Normandy. Today, I'll be telling you about LTC Matt "The Ghost” Urban. Matt Urban was the son of first-generation Polish immigrants. He grew up in Buffalo and attended Cornell University and was a member of the college track team, college boxing team, ROTC detachment, and a fraternity where he was probably slanging dick like it was his job.
In 1941 he received his commission as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army. He first saw combat during the invasion of North Africa during Operation Torch when he volunteered to replace a wounded Platoon leader. Urban and his men were tasked to conduct a beachhead landing on a rowboat when he was also wounded by enemy fire.
Despite his injuries, Urban refused medical treatment and instead led a combat patrol where his men encountered a stiff German Counterattack. With the US line faltering, Urban immediately killed the closest German using his trench knife and started to gun down other German soldiers in the vicinity with his newly captured MP40 submachine gun. While leading a stalwart counteroffensive, he was again wounded by grenade shrapnel. His actions in North Africa earned him two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.
During the invasion of Italy in 1943, Urban took charge by taking the place of his landing craft's anti-aircraft MG spotter when the spotter was wounded by a German fighter plane. Urban spotted the plane returning and was able to direct the gun crew to subsequently shoot it down, saving the men aboard his craft.
After the invasion of Sicily, the advance ground to a halt at the fortified Mountain Positions held by the German troops. 2-60th infantry, Urban’s unit was given the mission of crossing the mountains in central Sicily undetected to flank the German positions. By this point, Urban was already a Company Commander. Urban's company successfully spearheaded 4,000 men with pack-mules single file by night, flanked, and captured the Mountain castle.
Urban joined the invasion of France on the 11th of June after the initial beachhead landings had already been completed. When his Company was hit by small arms and tank fire during a combat patrol, Urban picked up bazooka of a dead AT gunner and persuaded the gunner's ammo carrier to help him Kill German tanks. Exposing himself to enemy fire, he killed two Panzer tanks, and the company moved forward and routed the enemy. Later that day in Orglandes, Urban was struck in the left leg by shrapnel from a German tank. Urban refused to be evacuated after a medic attended to him, and continued directing his company from position to position while being carried by his men on a litter.
Urban was then shipped to England for further medical treatment. While recovering in England, he learned that his Battalion had taken severe losses in the hedgerows of France, and was lacking experienced combat officers. In order to get back to his men, he took charge of training forty replacement soldiers near the hospital who were being sent to Normandy. He managed to sneak out with them on a troop carrier. After dropping the cherries off to their units in Normandy, he began hitchhiking his way from Utah Beach to his company near Saint-Lô, France some 29 miles away.
During the battle of Saint-Lô, Urban directed the men of his company while limping around with a cane. He pulled a wounded driver out of a Sherman tank before it exploded. He located another American tank which was still operable, but its turret gunner had been wounded. Urban crawled alongside the tank and was able to get into it and man the tank turret under fire. He ordered the tank driver to advance in high gear, and as the tank ripped towards the nazi fucks like a scene in Fury, Urban fired away on his Machine Gun at Anti Tank emplacements. This rallied the Battalion behind Urban into the valley in a unified assault while Urban destroyed more machine gun positions and the US overran the Germans lines with intense hand-to-hand & bayonet fighting.
To quote a soldier at the battle, SSG Evans: "Urban moved forward, and damned if the U.S. Army didn't move forward also. He bellied up to the tank and amid heavy gunfire scrambled aboard and manned the machine gun. The driver took heart with Urban aboard. The tank roared forward, and Urban tore the hillside apart with that gun. The men, once again with 'Urban-itis' scrambled up the rise and gained the objective." 2nd Battalion Commander, Max L. Wolf witnessed Urban's balls-out maneuver from his Hilltop CP and recommended Urban for the MoH for spearheading the Battalion's Saint-Lô breakthrough and saving many lives.
Less than a week later, Urban would take a shell fragment that narrowly missed his heart. Yet again he refused to be evacuated. 4 days later, on August 6, Wolf was killed in action near Cherbourg, France and the MoH paperwork was lost. Urban, who was only 24 years old, became the Battalion Commander.
A month later while in Belgium, Urban was shot through the neck when he charged an enemy machine gun emplacement with two grenades. One of his men plugged his entry and exit wounds with his fingers while another dragged Urban almost 100 meters under fire to a muddy ditch. The 2BN doctor gave Urban plasma and performed a tracheotomy on him but the prognosis was grim. The chaplain gave Urban his last rites after the doctor concluded that Urban suffered a mortal wound. Well, that Doctor must have felt like an idiot when Urban fuckin' survived. Urban spent a few weeks at a field hospital in France before being sent back to England again. And yet again he went back to his men. After healing up a bit he got a pass to visit Scotland for a couple of days. Instead, he went back to his unit, which was at Camp Elsenborn, Germany. His men were thrilled to have him back because they thought he had died of his wounds. With his Larynx destroyed, Urban requested a transfer to a combat mission in writing. The Army denied him and discharged him medically after promoting him to Lieutenant Colonel.
After the war, Urban dedicated himself to further service by volunteering at a local recreation center and eventually becoming the Director of Recreations. He also volunteered as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader. In 1979, a DAV rep officially requested information on Urban's possible Medal of Honor request. After nearly 40 years from the incident, it was eventually found, and Urban was presented with the Medal of Honor along with the Legion of Merit, a second BSM with "V" device, his SEVENTH Purple Heart, and the Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star by the French Ambassador.
Urban died on March 4, 1995, in Holland, Michigan. He was 75. The cause of death was a collapsed lung, a delayed injury from his old war wounds. It took the Grim Reaper over 7 tries and 50 years to finally put this warrior down.
About the author: Andy, is a US Army Infantryman and your local Friendly Neighborhood Rooftop Korean. When he's not burning through his savings at the range, you can find him online sharing memes, playing video games, and writing stories about the baddest warriors throughout history. You can follow all of Andy's NSFW content at @call_me_ak on Instagram.