WWII veteran, a Tonawanda resident, receives recognition
Congressman Brian Higgins and Supervisor Anthony Caruana presented Town of Tonawanda resident Corporal Lawrence P. Titzler with the Bronze Star and other medals he earned for his service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
"Corporal Lawrence Titzler played a valuable role in ensuring the safety of his fellow infantrymen and the eventual Allied victory," Higgins said Thursday. "It is truly our honor to present him with this symbol of a nation's appreciation."
Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Caruana added, "America has been blessed with men and women like Mr. Titzler, who unselfishly sacrificed so much in World War II so that others could remain free, then returned home to build our homes and our nation into the world's greatest democracy."
Born in 1923, Titzler entered the Army Jan. 23, 1943, amidst the nation's involvement in World War II. He bravely served his country in the Rhineland region during the European conflict. Titzler was studying engineering at Princeton University under the Army Specialized Training Program when he was transferred to the 303rd Medical Battalion, which was part of the 78th Infantry Division.
After completed training, in November of 1944, Company B boarded the USS John Ericsson and 11 days later landed in Bournemouth, England. Soldiers crossed the English Channel landing in France, boarded a train, passed through Belgium and eventually into Germany. By December of 1944, the 303rd Medical Battalion was directly supporting the men of the 78th Infantry Division.
As a member of Company B of the Army's 303rd Medical Battalion, Titzler served as a frontline medic in charge of processing troop information related to troop movement to prepare other medics for responding to injuries sustained on the front lines. Titzler and the 303rd Medical Battalion went on to participate in some of the most historically significant battles in Germany, including the "Battle at Remagen" and the "Battle of the Bulge."
After May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe Day, the 78th was sent to Berlin. Titzler left Europe in January of 1946 and was honorably discharged a month later.
He returned home to complete his college education, and then worked as a respected business teacher for 39 years. Titzler raised his family with his wife, Irene, and eventually assumed the role of assistant principal at Tonawanda High School, a position he held for nearly 20 years.
Joseph Elliott, a family friend of Titzler's, contacted Higgins' office in an effort to make sure Titzler received the recognition he deserved. While doing research on his grandfather Robert J. Strusa's World War II service, Elliott learned of a lifelong friendship between Titzler and his grandfather.
After being transferred to the 78th Infantry Division, 303rd Medical Battalion, B Company, Titzler met Strusa at Camp Butner in North Carolina. In a Buffalo-connected twist, the two quickly discovered they lived one block apart in the city's Riverside area. Immediately, Strusa recognized Titzler's name and would come to find out that Titzler's father had been cutting Strusa's hair for years. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship that brought the two men through the battles of Europe, back across the Atlantic at the war's end, and continued throughout their adult lives.
More than 70 years later, Higgins and Caruana said they were honored to present Titzler with overdue recognition for his accomplishments and bravery during WWII. Along with earning the Bronze Star Medal, Titzler was presented with: the Combat Medical Badge 1st Award, Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 2 bronze service stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp and the Honorable Service Lapel Button World War II.
The Bronze Star is awarded to members of the military distinguishing themselves by heroic service while engaged in an action against an armed enemy.