Nick Schemine, 81, still has his right leg thanks to a French doctor in a field hospital who refused to let other doctors amputate the mangled limb. Schemine, a PFC and radio man with the 6th Armored Division, failed to get out of his halftrack before a German shell hit. It was somewhere near a town called Armaucourt, Northeast of France, on Sept. 25, 1944.
Even before he hit the ground, PFC Schemine’s war was over and he earned his second purple heart. In January Schemine, a radio operator, was transferred to the Sixth Armored Division. It was a quick transfer to the east coast; a 14-day trip over the Atlantic to Scotland and south into England for training that led up to D-Day. On the way to Lorient, a German submarine base, Schemine was knocked flat by the concussion from a German grenade. After three days in a field hospital he rejoined his unit. He got a Purple Heart.
The Sixth Division began rolling through France and were nearing the Belgian border in September when Gen. George S. Patton came calling. “He was in a Jeep and rolled right up next to my half-track. “Hi son. How’s it going?” he said. “Ok,” I told him. “You need anything?” he asked? I said, “We’re fine.” So he says, “Give em’ hell then,“ and the Jeep pulled away.
Not too long after that, the Germans opened up and PFC Schemine tried to dive off his doomed halftrack a second too late. “I didn’t stick around for the Battle of the Bulge. I was gone by then,” he said.
He wound up in the 91st Field Hospital in Nancy, where medics fed him morphine and blood and where the nameless French doctor saved his mangled right leg. After 16 months of numerous operations to his leg, he was finally released from the hospitals and listed for life as 100 percent disabled.