August 17, 1944: Heroic Actions Earns Fayete Co. Native Medal of Honor
Stanley Bender’s heroic actions on August 17, 1944, would earn him the Medal of Honor. Bender was born in Fayette County in 1909, the son of a coal miner and Russian immigrant. His family moved to Chicago in 1930, and Bender enlisted in the Army in 1939.
During World War II, he saw action in North Africa and Italy. Following the Normandy invasion, the Allies were pushing eastward across France toward Germany. On August 17, 1944, Bender’s company encountered a German force near La Lande in southern France. Bender rushed through intense fire from German machine guns and grenades. He knocked out two German machine guns with rifle fire and inspired the rest of his company to take out a German roadblock. All told, Bender’s company killed 37 enemy soldiers and captured 26 prisoners that day.
For his heroism, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in early 1945. After the war, Bender returned to West Virginia and worked for the Veterans Administration in Beckley. He died in 1994 at age 84.
A bridge on the West Virginia Turnpike in Fayette County is named in Stanley Bender’s honor.