Courageous Chaplain

As V-E Day anniversary nears, Archbishop Borders recalls time on battlefield
By Carl Schoettler
Sun Staff
May 7, 2005

Archbishop William D. Borders is not a man given to celebrating his own courage. He doesn’t talk much about the year he spent as a chaplain with an infantry regiment in Italy during World War II. He recounts with terse modesty the story of how he earned the Bronze Star for Valor.

During an attack on a German position, he recalls, an American was hit and lay wounded on the battlefield.

“I was in pretty good physical condition and I managed to run and pick him up and put him on my shoulder and pull him out,” the archbishop says, during a conversation in his office at the Catholic Center as the 60th anniversary of V-E Day approaches tomorrow.

“Oh, yes, I was under fire, and it was machine-gun fire.”

Not everyday priestly duties, it seems.

“Oh, the priestly duties were there. But the circumstances were different,” he says.

He never learned the wounded man’s name.

“After I anointed him, they sent him to the rear, and I never saw him again.”

Do you think he lived?

“Well, he had a chance,” he says.

Borders has never considered himself particularly brave.

“You didn’t even think of it,” he says. “It didn’t enter your mind one way or