2nd Lieutenant Max Lebida of HQ Company 50th Armored Infantry was killed in action on August 5th 1944 in the vicinity of Le Cloitre, France. Max was bron in Kanna, Poland in 1909, moved with his parents to the United States where he attended the Centrall Fall Highschool in Centrall Falls, Rhode Island. After highschool he attended Rutgers Prep and Brown University.
"Max was born in Poland, but his record of achievement in worthy of any native son," said Lanning, the Journal Bulletin cartoonist in a tribute apprearing with a drawing of mAx in the Bulletin, Sept 10. "He became the Journal's second Honor Roll boy symbolizing excellence in athletics and classroom at Central Falls Highschool. He continued his brilliant record at Rutgers Prep and at Brown University. It is paradoxical that while at Rutgers Prep he composed a prize winning essay on Joyce Kilmer, the poet who wrote the immortal 'Trees," for he died on the same battlefield that claimed Kilmer a generation ago. Max fulfilled all the obligations Americe expects from her foster children, and now that he has given that last full measure of devotion it is we, rather than he, who owe debt which can never be repaid". Brown University Alumni Monthly 1944.
On August 26th 1933, in the year that Max entered Brown University, he married Ruth McIntyre, a doctor's assistant in Brewster, NY. Max played in the class football and baseball teams. He left college before graduation and was a laboratory foreman at J and P Coats, Inc thread manufacturers in Pawtucket. He was also doing advanced study in textile dyeing at Rhode Island School of Design.
At the time of his enlistment on May 25th 1942 he was living with his wife Ruth in Centrall Falls. After some time in the army he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant at the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Ga.
Before going overseas in the spring of 1944 he was assigned to the HQ Company of the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division.
In August of 1944 the 50th Armored Infantry Battalion was fighting its way through Brittany in the direction of the city of Brest:
With its Third platoon occupying a hill serving as an Observation Post for the action beyond Le Cloitre, "A" Company's First and Second Platoon deployed on the left and right respectively, supported by a Headquarters Company mortar section, and the attack which followed carried our troops right into the midst of the enemy's cleverly concealed positions. Extremely heavy and highly effective fire made further advance impossible. Savage fighting continued throughout a period of four hours, at the end of which our troops were withdrawn. It was during this operation that the Battalion lost its first Officer, when Lieutenant Max Lebida of Headquarters Company was killed while manning a machine gun after its entire crew had become casualties. Considerable difficulty was encountered during the withdrawal, which finally was accomplished despite a continuous rain of Nazi fire. The night was spent near Le Cloitre, with strong outposts alerted for immediate action against possible enemy counterattacks. Early morning reconnaissance revealed that the enemy himself had withdrawn during the night, indicating that our assault of the previous day, while not entirely successful, had nevertheless proved to the Nazi that continued resistance on his part would terminate only in his complete annihilation.
For his actions Max was awarded the Silver Star which was postumously received by his wife Ruth at Fort Adams.
Max's final letter to Ruth, written two days before his death, has been preserved by the The State Historical Society of Missouri and is presented below.