Edlin, Robert Thomas “Bob”, born 06-05-1922 in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, USA, to Louis Lee Edlin (1898-1965) and his wife Alice E. Edlin (1901–1965). Robert had 4 brothers and two sisters Sam L Edlin (1919–2002), Marion G Edlin (1921–1983), Thelma Elizabeth Edlin Brock (1925–1966), Infant daughter Edlin (1927–1927), Infant daughter (1930–1930) and Morton Lindeman Edlin (1937–2008). He was married to Doris Anna, born Weber Edlin, she died 19-09-1994 (age 73) in Nueces County, Texas. They had one daughter, Emma Lee Edlin Hayslip
Robert joined the Indiana National Guard in 1939 and was assigned to B Company, 152d Infantry, 38th Division. In April, 1941, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and made a Platoon Leader, and his unit participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers. The Louisiana Maneuvers were a series of major U.S. Army exercises held in 1941 in northern and west-central Louisiana, an area bounded by the Sabine River to the west, the Calcasieu River to the east, and by the city of Shreveport to the north.
In 1942, he entered Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in September of 1942, and assigned to Company K, 112th Infantry, 28th Infantry Division, America’s oldest Division under command of Major General Omar Nelson Bradley, at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. In May of 1943, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and given further training at Camp Carrabelle, Florida, where he became an expert on the Browning Automatic Weapon (BAR), light machine gun, and the M-1 rifle. Later he was assigned as the Division Bayonet Instructor at Camp Pickett, Virginia. In November of 1943, Lieutenant Edlin was shipped to England with the 28th Infantry Division where he attended a British Commando and Battle School. In December of 1943, he volunteered for the Rangers and received Ranger Training at Braunton, England, and was assigned as a Platoon Leader, Company A, 2d Ranger Battalion at Bude, Cornewall, England. The Army Ranger exemplified the highest standards of courage, determination, ruggedness and fighting ability. On June 6, 1944—D-Day, Lieutenant Edlin led his platoon across Omaha Beach and received two wounds in his leg, incapacitating him. The following day, he was evacuated to the 97th General Hospital, in England, where he remained until rejoining his platoon at St. Jean de Daye, France, on 5-07-1944. It was during the Brest Campaign on 09 -09-1944, that Lieutenant Edlin led one of the most amazing assaults of the war by sneaking a small patrol into the most powerful fortress on the Brest Peninsula. At great personal risk, he forced a captured officer at gunpoint to lead him to the fortress commandant whom he threatened with a live grenade to surrender the fortress; this ultimately resulted in the capture of over 800 German soldiers and caused a cascading of surrenders throughout the area. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross . In November of 1944, while leading a patrol in the Hurtgent Forest, a mine exploded wounding Lieutenant Edlin in the hand and face. Subsequently he was granted leave, and returned to the 2d Ranger Battalion and participated in the fighting across Germany. Lieutenant Edlin eventually returned home and married his High School sweetheart on 07-12-1945. He was released from active duty in March of 1946. In 1948 Mr. Edlin joined the Indiana National Guard again as a Captain of the 152d Infantry Regiment in Company K. He resigned his commission in 1954. His valiant service brings great credit upon himself and the United Stated Army.
The “Fabulous Four” Patrol. from left, 1LT Robert T. Edlin, SSG William Dreher, SSG William J. Courtney, and SGT Warren D. Burmaster.
Seizing the moment, the four Rangers surprised twenty German paratroopers in a pillbox and captured it without firing a shot. Edlin sent SGT Burmaster back to the company to stop any further artillery fire and to radio LTC Rudder to bring up the rest of the battalion. Leaving SSG Dreher to guard the 19 prisoners 1LT Edlin and Courtney forced an English-speaking German officer to take them to the commander’s office. They moved through the massive fort’s defenses as German soldiers watched. Then, 1LT Edlin charged inside. “I shoved the door open and dove in. I was across the desk and shoved my Tommy gun at the commander’s throat. [When] I said ‘Hande hoch!’ He put his hands up,” said Edlin. Oberst Fuerst, the commandant, initially refused to surrender, calling the young lieutenant’s bluff. Edlin pulled a pin from a hand grenade and thrust it against the Colonel’s chest, “I said, ‘One, two …’ I started to say three. Then he said, ‘OK.’ I very gingerly stuck the pin back into the [grenade] hammer,” said Edlin.36 Colonel Fuerst broadcast a surrender notice to the garrison over a loudspeaker system. By then the rest of the 2nd Ranger Battalion were at the outer defenses. LTC Rudder accepted the surrender. In an extremely bold and lucky move, the Able Company patrol captured 850 German prisoners and negated the threat from the strongest and largest fortress around Brest.37 The capture of the Lochrist Battery triggered the fall of Brest.
Death and burial ground of Edlin, Robert Thomas “Bob” “The Fool Lieutenant”.
In 1963, Bob and 50 members of the Edlin family migrated to the South Texas area from Indiana in search of a warmer climate. In the 1960’s, Bob along with other relatives opened Kingsville Auction. Then in 1974, Bob opened Edlin’s Auction Co, which continues to this day.Bob was the 2005 recipient of the Texas Congressional Medal of Honor, a US Congressional Medal of Honor nominee, a 1995 US Army Ranger Hall of Fame inductee, a decorated World War II veteran receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, and 3 Purple Hearts. Bob was member of the Eagles Lodge, Police Officers Association, a life long member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, & the Persons With Disabilities League. In his youth, Bob was also a Golden Gloves champion. His life was the subject of the book “The Fool Lieutenant” by Marcia Moen and Margo Heinen. In October of 2000, he was honored by the city of Corpus Christi by having a “Robert Edlin Day” which recognized his life long achievements.
Edlin, Robert Thomas “Bob” “The Fool Lieutenant” died on 01-04-2005 (age 82) in Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas. Robert is buried at the Seaside Memorial Park Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas, Section Y – Garden of Faith.