They came using wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or gratefully, walking with pride. The group of heroes that gathered last week in Seattle for the reunion of the Survivors of the Battle of the Bulge all sat in the warmth of friendship and memories, with their thoughts drifting to those who served beside them, fell on the field of battle, and helped them along the way.
The fought in Belgium, Remagen, Bastogne and beyond as they worked their way across Europe.
Vince wore his famous Geronimo insignia symbolizing the 101st paratroopers division that dropped from the sky not only on D-Day, but also the Battle of the Bulge.
Here are just a few of their experiences during that horrific battle.
“The army gave us these boots that had separate liners. The snow would go down the lines and freeze in our boots. So we threw those liners away.”
“The snow was so deep and we had to sleep in it, out in the open. When our Captain was injured they sent us this new guy. He told us to build fires to keep warm. We told him we didn’t do it that way out here in the middle of battle.”
“They gave us these long coats that went down to our boots, but as we marched the snow would freeze along the bottom and it would get so heavy. I cut mine off and made it into a trench coat.”
“There was this old castle-like building that we took over and converted into a hospital of sorts. We would take turns going inside to warm up and thaw out our feet.”
Yet another told how his troop had a memorial made for the Wereth 11, the African-American U.S. soldiers who, after surrendering, were mutilated and killed.
War is hell.
Ironically, following the reunion, I had dinner with my God-Mother who served as a nurse in Belgium and France.
“Their feet were so badly frostbitten, those men with Patton, it was awful. We had hundreds of them come through our makeshift hospital.”
If you want to really learn about WWII, attend a reunion of one of these incredible groups of men and women.
Just imagine, anyone in their 90’s today took part at some level helping a struggling United States to achieve victory in World War II. So, when an elderly person happens by, give them a big smile, a nod, a thank you, or even a kiss.