January 31 - 1945 - The Execution of Private Eddie Slovik
Eddie Slovik is the only person executed for desertion by the United States Military since the American Civil War. Until he was actually executed, Eddie Slovik's story is not particularly uncommon. Slovik was an ex-con, who had spent most of his teen years in prison, and so was initially not drafted. In the final stages, the standards changed, and Slovik, recently married after finding a steady job, was called into the Army. As soon as he made his way to France, Slovik hated the idea of fighting. So he deserted. Typically, deserters were brought before a court martial, and then given a death sentence. Slovik's case took a turn when no one, from the sentencing officer to Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower refused to commute his sentence. That is how Eddie Slovik became the only American soldier executed for desertion in World War II.