Felix L. Sparks
Brigadier General Felix Sparks... (August 2, 1917—September 25, 2007) was an American military commander who led the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division of the United States Army, the first Allied force to enter Dachau concentration camp and liberate its prisoners.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Sparks grew up in Miami, Arizona. He was the oldest of five children; his father worked for a copper mining company until it was closed in 1931. The Great depression had begun. In fall 1933, his parents had to send him to an uncle in Arizona to earn his living there. In 1935, after unsuccessfully seeking jobs in the shipyards of Corpus Christi, Texas and San Francisco, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
In a ten-year army career, which included the December 1941–August 1945 period of World War II, Sparks rose to the rank of colonel. Upon returning to civilian life, he attended the University of Colorado Law School, graduating in 1947. After opening a law practice in Delta, Colorado, he was elected district attorney there, running as the Democratic Party candidate. Following his reelection loss in 1952, Governor Ed Johnson appointed him to fill an unexpired term on the Colorado Supreme Court. At the end of that term, he returned to his law practice in Delta. He was also in the Colorado Army National Guard, notably during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and, between 1968 and 1979 served as its Commander, retiring with the rank of Brigadier General.
Eight weeks past his 90th birthday, Felix L. Sparks died in Colorado from complications due to pneumonia.
Second World War
After some training at Fort Sill, colonel Charles M. Ankorn (who had fought in Flanders during WWI) appointed him to his adjutant in 1941. In June 1942, Sparks married. One year later, the USS Charles Carroll brought him to Oran, a harbour in Algeria. In July, he took part in Operation Husky. Later, he was the only survivor of his unit in the battle of Anzio. He took part in the Operation Dragoon (15 August 1944 – 14 September 1944) that liberated southern France and advanced very quickly. He also took part in the Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) and in the Battle of Aschaffenburg (28 March – 3 April 1945).
- Beuchner, Emajean Jordan (1991). Sparks. Metairie, LA: Thunderbird Press, Inc.
- Alex Kershaw (2012). "The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau". New York, NY: Crown Publishers.
- McClearn, William C. "An Oral History: Felix L. Sparks", The Colorado Lawyer, October 1998
- "DACHAU AND ITS LIBERATION: Personal account by Felix L. Sparks Brigadier General, AUS (Retired)
- Sheeler, Jim. "One Last Honor", Rocky Mountain News, March 10, 2007
- Clips from the 1990 documentary "The Liberation of KZ Dachau"; includes interview with Felix Sparks
- Farragher, Thomas. "Vengeance at Dachau", Boston Globe, July 2, 2001