Retired DMPS Educator Earns Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Service
How many DMPS retirees can say they played Big Ten football and baseball (co-captaining a conference championship team), fought at Anzio in World War II in a unit later portrayed in a Hollywood film that starred William Holden and Cliff Robertson, and were awarded the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian?
Chances are that when surviving members of the First Special Services Force, aka the Devil’s Brigade, receive those medals on Tuesday in Washington, DC, longtime DMPS coach, science teacher and vice-principal John Tedore will become the one and only answer to that question.
Tedore is 90 years old and long retired from a career as an educator that began in the 1950s and ended in 1987 with a few years of intermission in the early 60s when he figured out he didn’t really want to sell insurance. He coached football at Lincoln High School in 1959, one of the sports he played with distinction at the University of Iowa when he returned to college after his military service. Later he taught science at Hiatt Junior High and served as a vice-principal at Wilson, Kurtz and Weeks Junior Highs/Middle Schools from 1970-87.
During that last year of 1986-87 there was a new teacher on the staff at Weeks, Tedore’s daughter, Mary Tedore-Salomon. She’s still at it, currently teaching 4th grade at Cattell and can’t wait to accompany her father and the rest of their family to Washington next week. The ceremony at the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall will honor a group of soldiers that was made up of both American and Canadian troops and is considered to be the forerunner of special forces units like the Green Berets.
For some perspective on the degree of distinction here, consider that past recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include the Tuskegee Airmen, Gen. Douglas Macarthur, the Navajo code-talkers and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
“We are all so excited and proud,” Tedore-Salomon said Wednesday. She will accompany her dad to Washington next Monday and meet up with other family there. “This has been in the works for a long time and we finally found out just before Christmas but we had to keep it secret until the official announcement was made.”
The unit the Nazis came to know as “Die Schwarzen Teufeln” (The Black Devils, owing to the unit’s penchant for nighttime operations) suffered heavy casualties during fighting in France and Italy and the passage of so many years has further thinned the ranks. According to Tedore only 75 members of the elite, top secret unit are still living, 46 Americans and 29 Canadians. And not all of them are able to travel to Washington for the proceedings that will be televised live on C-Span beginning at 2:00 PM Central time on February 3rd. But there’s no stopping Tedore.
“Absolutely, I’m going,” he said recently, clearly pleased to collect the balance due for distinguished service he rendered as part of a unit that he first volunteered for just to earn some extra pay.