Brighton residents and Ernest Prussman's surviving relatives gathered at Murdock and Cambridge streets this afternoon for the formal unveiling of a statue in his honor - along the route he took every day to get to Brighton High School across the street.
Prussman was awarded the nation's highest military honor posthumously for his activities on the battlefield on Sept. 8, 1944, in Loscoat, Brittany, in France. Rick Holahan, who spearheaded a three-year effort to get the statue built, recounted that Prussman led a group of soldiers to clear out German artillery, machine-gun and sniper emplacements that had managed to pin down two American battalions.
As 50 people listened, and as a large American flag fluttered over Cambridge Street from the top of a BFD ladder, Holahan read Prussman's Medal of Honor citation: Prussman jumped across one hedgerow and captured some German riflemen. Crossing a second hedgerow, he came across a machine-gun position - and managed to force its soldiers into surrender.
Again advancing ahead of his squad in the assault, he was mortally wounded by an enemy rifleman, but as he fell to the ground he threw a hand grenade, killing his opponent. His superb leadership and heroic action at the cost of his life so demoralized the enemy that resistance at this point collapsed, permitting the 2 battalions to continue their advance.
Holahan and sculptor Jeff Buccacio unwrap the statue:
Saluting as the Star-Spangled Banner is played (that's BPDA Executive Director Brian Golden on the left):
Holahan said he and others began the effort to honor Prussman while cataloging Allston/Brighton's "hero squares." They came across the one for Prussman at Faneuil and Goodenough streets, and thought the Medal of Honor winner deserved more recognition. Boston College's Neighborhood Task Force donated the money, which the group used to hire Bucaccio - who said that while he had plenty of stories to work with, he had just a single photo of Prussman on which to base the statue.