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John Welch (6-5-17) service 7-13-17

John Welch, born in his beloved Savannah, on Aug. 17, 1919, passed away in El Paso, Texas on Monday, June 5, at the age of 97.
He was preceded in death by eight of his siblings and his parents, Syminthia Shutt and John C. Welch of Hardin County.
He leaves behind several nieces, nephews and their families, including James Robert Welch (Hilda) and Dennis Haynes (Gracy), to name a few. John made El Paso his home for more than 60 years. He worked at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, retired in 1983, and acquired property of which he personally managed into his 90s.
John will be remembered most for his commendable military career. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1939 and was assigned to the 66th Infantry (Light Tanks) at Fort Benning, Georgia. Within three years he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School in Fort Knox, Kentucky, becoming tank commander for the 13th Armored Division (Black Cats) during WWII in Europe.  Later as commander for Company A of the 45th Tank Battalion under General George Patton, he led his battalion in the final drive across the Danube River, deep into Southern Germany.
During the Korean War in the 2nd Infantry Division as Rifle Company commander, he was stunned by a 120-mm white phosphorous mortar round acquiring burns and shrapnel to his back. As the seasoned officer, he delayed his transfer to the MASH unit until all the men in his division were transported first. With his next promotion, Major Welch served on faculty at the Armored School in Fort Knox, Kentucky, then was later assigned to Headquarters 1st Infantry Division in Germany.  After retiring as Lieutenant Colonel Welch in 1960, he served as Chief Warrant Officer Four(CW4) in the Reserves for five years and retired again in 1965 for a total of 26 honorable years of military service. His military service awards include: Bronze Star with V device for Valor, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (1OCL), European Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars and the Korean Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Alice Portillo Welch. He was father to three children (Rebecca Foley, Denis Welch, and Robert Welch), six step-children, and their spouses. He was a grandfather to 11 grandchildren and their spouses and a great-grandfather to 10 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life was held mid-June in El Paso, Texas.  A graveside service will take place at Savannah Cemetery in Savannah, on Thursday, July 13, at 11 a.m.
John, “Dad,” “Uncle Johnny,” “Grandpa John” will be dearly missed.

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