Word with the Army Service Uniform during formal events and special ceremonies, the ceremonial belt for officers in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps is made in branch colors of Dark Blue and White with gold braids on the top and bottom. Many sources refer to it as a “sabre belt” or “saber belt,” but the phrase is not found in either AR 670-1 nor DA 670-1, nor is it used in Training Circular 3-21.5, Drills and Ceremonies.
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The power of persuasion is just one of the tools in the arsenal of a Judge Advocate. And for a First Lieutenant serving as a Judge Advocate in an armored division during the liberation of France in World War II, it turned out to be just as effective in the front lines of combat.

After landing at Utah Beach on July 11, 1944, the Fourth Armored Division drove south and secured the area around Coutances on July 28. Two days later, on the night of July 30, some elements of the division had encountered and dispersed an enemy column outside the village of Le Pont Gilbert. The next morning, First Lieutenant Samuel E. Spitzer led his anti-aircraft artillery platoon to the area just outside the small town—then ordered them to wait as he entered the village.

Placing his weapons on the ground in plain sight of the Germans hiding in and around the hamlet, Spitzer began walking down the main thoroughfare, shouting in German to the soldiers who had taken refuge there that their options were to surrender or to “die at the hands of the advancing Fourth Division.”

To say that his warning did not fall on deaf ears is an understatement. Over 500 German soldiers—508, to be precise—emerged from their hiding places and peacefully surrendered to the Allied soldiers. There’s obviously no way to know just how many lives were saved by Spitzer’s appeal to reason, but an estimate of dozens is certainly reasonable.

Spitzer was awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day, and nine days later he was wounded and was later honored with the Purple Heart. Spitzer survived World War II and, after a short period of inactive duty, returned to service with the entry of the United States into the Korean War. Sadly, Spitzer died of a heart attack on October 30, 1950, but his extraordinary decision to risk his life to save so many his fellow soldiers and even enemy combatants means his story will be told to future members of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for countless generations to come.

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