PFC Charley Havlat of Dorchester, Nebraska, was the last confirmed American combat fatality in the European Theater during World War II. He was born in rural Saline County, the oldest son of Anton and Antonia (Nemec) Havlat, Czech immigrants to Nebraska in the early 1900s. His brothers, Adoph, Rudolph, and Lumir, also served in the U.S. Army during the war.
Charley and Rudolph served together in the 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. On the morning of May 7, 1945, two reconnaissance platoons were sent forward to locate German positions northeast of the Czech town of Volary. About 8:20 a.m. a burst of small arms fire from enemy soldiers in the woods struck the American patrol, wounding several and killing Havlat. Word of a formal cease-fire to take effect at 8:30 a.m. reached the American and German units a few minutes later. The cease-fire ended the war in Europe.
Ironically, Havlat died while helping liberate his parents' homeland. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery at Saint-Avold, France. More information on Charley Havlat can be found in the Saline County Museum.
Dorchester Area Community Foundation
Nebraska State Historical Society, 2009
Saline County Museum, 1445 State Hwy 33, Dorchester, NE