For most people Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and vacation time. But for many it is a time to reflect upon and honor those who have served our country. The Paragon family counts two special heroes who were on active duty during World War II. Bert Mintz, husband of our CEO Hanne Mintz, and father of President Marina Mintz served in Patton’s Third Army in the 10th Armored Division (command Company B) during World War II from July 1943 to December 1945, and Chris George Yaldezian, grandfather to our Marketing Operations Director, Allie Yaldezian, served in the 9th Armored Division from December 1944 to March 1945.
Their stories below are dedicated to all the courageous, selfless men and women and their families who have laid down their lives to protect our freedom.
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Happy Memorial Day to you and yours!
Bert Mintz: A Pacifist goes to War
Bert was born in Brooklyn, a direct descendant of Hayim Solomon, quartermaster general in George Washington’s army and hero of the American revolution. He went to Georgia Tech to fulfill his dream of becoming an engineer. After only a year he was called up for active duty, and in Uncle Sam’s inimitable way was put in an Infantry unit despite his flat feet! Patton’s Third Army and the 10th Armored Division, aka the Tiger Division (command Company B) became his home for the next two years. After landing in Cherbourg in September 1944 and undergoing a month of training, Bert’s unit fought its way to capture Metz in November. They also liberated a concentration camp in the area despite official insistence that none had ever existed on French soil. Bert said he could never get that particular stench of death out of his nostrils.
In December 1944 Bert’s unit, comprising tanks and halftracks, were among the first combat troops to reach Bastogne, a hub in Belgium from which seven main roads diverge, allowing access to all of Europe from its center, and of enormous value to both sides. Command Company B (CCB) held Bastogne, suffering catastrophic losses, until the fabled 101st Airborne finally arrived. CCB was ordered to defend Bastogne at all costs – thus marking the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, the major turning point in World War II. Bert’s heroism and injuries earned him a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and his proudest achievement - the Combat Infantry Badge. His unit also received a presidential commendation. Although Bert rarely spoke of his experiences, surely because they were so harrowing, he did write his memoir for his children so they might better understand their father.
Like most men and women at the end of that particular war, Bert mustered out, surrendering his firearm and vowing to never touch one again. “They are made for one reason only, to kill, and I have done enough of that.” He suffered nightmares his whole life, was haunted by thoughts of enemy killed, and how his hand forever impacted their families and friends. But he got on with life like all good soldiers do, earning Masters in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from his beloved Georgia Tech, and a PhD in Public Administration. And always pointed to his very proudest accomplishment: his family.
Chris George Yaldezian: A Tale of Twin Telepathy
Chris George Yaldezian, grandfather to our Marketing Operations Director, celebrated his 90th birthday this month, surrounded by family and his wife of 60 years, Maggie. He served his country during World War II where he was assigned to the US Army’s 9th Armored Division in the 27th headquarters company. He saw active duty from December 1944 until March 1945 where he took part in the Battle of the Bulge alongside Bert Mintz and his troop in the 10th Armored Division.
Chris was assigned to actively scout out safe sleeping quarters for his division as they moved throughout Belgian and German territory. His unit was responsible for searching out resistance groups and it was on a mission of this nature where Chris was shot in the leg. Chris had an identical twin brother, John, who was unable to serve on active duty, due to a childhood eye injury. When Chris was injured, his mother received a telegram explaining that her son had been wounded, but it did not indicate where, when or how it happened, nor the severity of the injury. To comfort his mother, John told her that Chris had been shot in the calf, pointing to his own left leg. He said that he had been limping for two weeks, so he was sure that this is where the injury had taken place and assured her that he would be just fine. Sure enough, when Chris returned home safely, his brother was proven correct. He had been shot in the exact place he had described.
The two went on to do several twin studies over the decades, and it was determined that their DNA was so close that their own children were more like siblings than cousins. We thank Chris for his service in protecting our country, as we honor all of our veterans this Memorial Day and every day.