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Soldier earned Bronze Star during WWII

Stephen Huba
| Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Joseph F. Anzenberger Sr., of Delmont, died Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Ark Manor in Delmont. He was 94.
Joseph F. Anzenberger Sr., of Delmont, died Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Ark Manor in Delmont. He was 94.

Driving deep into German-controlled territory in Austria, Army Sgt. Joseph Anzenberger's unit encountered desperate German soldiers in the waning days of World War II.

“My dad and two other men from his unit were tapped to go help direct the American firepower toward the Germans who were firing on their unit,” his son Bill Anzenberger said. “They were successful in knocking out the Germans who were shooting at them.”

For gallantry in action with the 5th Infantry Regiment, 71st Infantry Division, Mr. Anzenberger was awarded the Bronze Star.

The 71st had penetrated farther east into German territory than any other American combat unit, crossing the Danube River, liberating concentration camps and accepting the surrender of the German Army Group South one day before V-E Day.

Joseph F. Anzenberger Sr. of Delmont died Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Ark Manor in Delmont. He was 94.

Born in Altoona on Oct. 27, 1922, he was the son of the late Francis “Frank” Anzenberger Sr. and Josephine (Lord) Anzenberger. He graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School in McKees Rocks in 1940 and enlisted with the Duquesne University ROTC program in 1943.

Awaiting orders while in England, Mr. Anzenberger was held back from boarding the SS Leopoldville prior to its ill-fated trip across the English Channel. The rest of his unit boarded the ship, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat on Christmas Eve 1944, resulting in the death of 763 American soldiers.

He arrived in France in January 1945 and continued with the 71st all the way to Steyr, Austria, his son said.

After the war, Mr. Anzenberger continued his studies and graduated from Duquesne with bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry. He worked as a research chemist, first with the Mellon Institute and then with Monsanto in St. Louis.

Laid off in 1971, he found work with the Stauffer Chemical Co. in New York. The research he did there resulted in the awarding of six patents in the late 1970s and '80s, his son said.

“He did a lot of work with fire-resistant lubricating fluids for large machinery, to keep them running cool,” Anzenberger said. “These were chemical compounds that were added to the fluid that was lubricating the machinery.”

After Stauffer was bought out, Mr. Anzenberger's section was moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. He retired in 1989 and moved back to Delmont.

He organized a monthly breakfast and used the proceeds to benefit the Cloverleaf retirement community in Delmont. He enjoyed watercolor painting and traveling with his wife of 61 years, the late Virginia (Dodson) Anzenberger.

He is survived by seven children, Mary Virginia Chiapel of Florida, Joanne Anzenberger of Murrysville, Joe Anzenberger Jr. of California, Elizabeth “Betsy” Nero of Murrysville, Jeanne Moretti and her husband, David, of Virginia, Bill Anzenberger and his wife, Tammy, of Virginia, and John Anzenberger of New York; 16 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren..

Friends will be received from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Vaia Funeral Home, 463 Athena Drive, Delmont. A funeral Mass will be held 11 a.m. Saturday in St. John Baptist de La Salle Catholic Church, 497 Athena Drive, Delmont. Graveside committal services, full military honors accorded by the VFW Post 33 Honor Guard, Greensburg, will follow. Interment will be in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont.

Memorials may be made to: Heartland Hospice Care, 3520 Route 130, Irwin, PA 15642, Delmont Meals on Wheels Inc., 301 E. Pittsburgh St., Delmont, PA 15626, or Western Westmoreland County Faith in Action, 4600 Old William Penn Highway, Murrysville, PA 15668.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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