Sparks, Felix Laurence.

Back to all people
united statesArmyBrigade GeneralPurple Heart

Sparks, Felix Laurence, born 02-08-1917, in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, the oldest of five children to Felix Franklin Sparks (1891–1971) and Martha Estelle, born Ray Sparks (1897–1993)  Felix had one brother Earl H Sparks (1920–2016) The family moved to Miami, where his father worked in a copper mine, when and they began raising their growing family of 5 children. 2 boys, 3 girls. During WWII Earl was a decorated soldier in the US Air Force earning a Bronze Star and many other accommodations for his bravery and high intellect.  Earl Sparks died on 07-12-2016, age 96, in Globe, Gila County, Arizona, USA

Felix left home at age 18 in search of a job traveling by boxcar first to Corpus Christi Texas and then on to San Francisco. Unsuccessful in gaining employment he found himself broke and hungry sleeping on park benches. An Army recruiter passing by ask him he if wanted to join the Army, and realizing he had little options left, he immediately signed on. In order to attain his goal of getting a law degree he convinced the Captain that the Army was needed a Photography Shop. He taught himself how to develop film and was soon earning a considerable sum of money. When his two years were up with the Army he enrolled at the University of Arizona and was on his way to earning his long coveted law degree. But the unrest caused by Adolf Hitler and Japan prompted Sparks to join the ROTC/Reserve Officers’ Training Corps where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He had just about completed the first semester of law school when the notice to report to the Army came.

During the war, Sparks’s assignments included adjutant of 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment and commander of the battalion’s Company E. As a major and lieutenant colonel, he commanded the 45th Division’s the “Thunderbirds,” 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment during 1944 and 1945.

Sparks was a recipient of two awards of the Silver Star for heroism, as well as two awards of the Purple Heart. In addition, Sparks received the Croix de Guerre from the government of France. He received the Silver Star for heroism during combat in Italy in February 1944 while he was commander of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 157th Infantry. The citation for his first Silver Star read:

While Captain Felix Sparks’s Infantry company was subjected to a series of enemy attacks near Carroceto, Italy, on February 16, he repeatedly exposed himself in order to advise his officers and men of the situation. During one attack two Mark IV tanks reached a point within 25 yards of his command post and fired on the position until repelled by bazooka and artillery fire. He remained at his post under artillery, machinegun and mortar fire, controlling his men and relaying valuable information to his battalion headquarters. When orders came to move the company, he successfully disengaged the enemy and organized a new defensive position, preventing a break-through.

In September 1956, news of a planned reunion of 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment scheduled for Denver in October included details of Sparks’s role in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

On 29-04-1945, units of 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Felix Sparks, were ordered to secure the Dachau camp; he led his troops as they entered the camp over a side wall. At about the same time, Brigadier General Henning Linden led soldiers of the 222nd Infantry Regiment of the 42nd (Rainbow) Infantry Division to accept the formal surrender of the camp from German SS-Untersturmführer/Lieutenant Heinrich Wicker.

. The historian Harold Marcuse assumes that SS Untersturmbannführer Wicker was shot on 29-04-1945, age 23, immediately after the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

Linden was traveling with Marguerite Higgins, an American reporter and war correspondent and other reporters, and as a result, Linden’s detachment generated international headlines by accepting the surrender of the camp. More than 30,000 Jews and political prisoners were freed. Since 1945, adherents of the 42nd and 45th Division versions of events have argued over which unit was the first to liberate Dachau.

In addition to his career in politics and government, Sparks remained in the military after World War II. In 1946, he was appointed as executive officer the Colorado Army National Guard’s 157th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) with the rank of lieutenant colonel. As reorganized units were assigned to the RCT, Sparks was assigned to command of its 1st Battalion. In May 1950, Sparks completed the course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After completing his tour as commander of 1st Battalion, Sparks served for several years on the staff at the Colorado National Guard’s state headquarters. In August 1959 he was assigned to command the 169th Field Artillery Group. Sparks was a colonel in October 1961 when his command was called to active duty as part of the U.S. response to the Berlin Crisis of 1961. Sparks served on active duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma until August 1962, then returned to his position with the state water conservation board.

In August 1968, Sparks completed the updated Command and General Staff College course at Fort Leavenworth. He was then promoted to Brigadier General and assigned as Colorado’s assistant Adjutant General for army and commander of the Colorado Army National Guard. Sparks held this position until retiring upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60 in 1977

Death and burial ground of Sparks, Felix Laurence.



In 1941, Sparks married Mary Blair. They were the parents of four children.

Felice Laurence Sparks died of pneumonia at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colorado, on 25-09-2007, age 90. He was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado Jefferson County, Colorado, VS  Section: Block 68, with his Mary, who died, 17 years later, on 12-01-2018 (age 95) in Colorado.

Sparks’s wartime experiences were the subject of a 2020 Netflix miniseries, The Liberator Sparks’s role in the Dachau liberation is also the subject of Alex Kershaw’s book The Liberator, upon which the miniseries is based.. In 2008, the United States Post Office at 10799 West Alameda Avenue in Lakewood, Colorado was named in Sparks’s honor

Message(s) for the webmaster, tips or interesting graves:

Share on :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *