Joe enlisted in the Army on June 16, 1942, he was 21 years old, 5 ft. 9 in. and weighed 137 lbs. He was sent to Fort George Meade, Maryland for training in Company "A" 301st Engineers on June 25, 1942. Joe was then assigned to the 17th Armored Engineers Brigade, which was under the direction of Col. George S. Patton, Jr., he was one of the ablest and most controversial U.S. commanders in World War II.
The Division trained in England for the cross-Channel invasion. Joe and the 2nd Armored Division had seen a lot of combat before the D-Day invasion. Joe was waiting and training in England for 3 weeks before they crossed the Chanel on June 9, D-Day Plus 3. He said all they fed them was Mutton. I am sure they ate other things, but he would never eat lamb again.
On the beaches of Normandy, engineer troops, operated under heavy enemy fire. They cleared lanes for landing craft by destroying the mine-bearing steel structures that the Germans had implanted in the intertidal zone and bulldozed roads up the narrow draws through the cliffs lining the beaches.
Joes Division landed in Normandy, "D plus 3", June 9, 1944 and went into action in the vicinity of Carentan. The 2nd Armored Division saw activity on the Cotentin Peninsula and across France, engaged German forces in Avranches, and accompanied the Third Army toward the Albert Canal. The Engineers raced across France in July and August, drove through Belgium and attacked acrossed the Albert Canal, September 13, 1944, crossing the German border at Schimmert on September 18, 1944. On October 3, 1944, the 2nd Armored Division attacked the Siegfried Line, crossed the Wurm River, and seized several towns.
During the Rhine Campaign, the 2nd Armored took part in one of the most brutal battles of the Second World War, during the German offensive at Ardennes. More commonly known as the "Battle of the Bulge". The 2nd Armored Division endured a brutal and violent winter in eastern Belgium, holding off the German Armies’ Fifth Panzer Division. They fought in extremely deep snow, frigid conditions, and over rough, dense and hilly terrain. During the "Battle of the Bulge", quick engineer action destroyed critical bridges in the path of advancing German forces, slowing and diverting them while Allied forces regrouped.
The Division drove on across the Rhine in late March 1945. When the 2nd Armored Division crossed the Rhine, they earned the recognition as the first American division to reach the Elbe River at Shonebeck, on the 11th of April, 1945. In July of 1945, the "Hell on Wheels" division was the first American unit to enter the German capital city of Berlin.