Sunday, December 25, 2011

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The strategic village of Bastogne, astride a 5-way road intersection in the Ardennes, where American paratroopers successfully defended against German tanks.

Over the course of 2+ decades in the Fort Bragg / Fayetteville area, I got to know a few of the World War II vets who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, jumped into the Low Countries for Operation Market Garden, then faced off against German tanks in the biggest battle Americans ever fought; the Battle of the Bulge, also known as "The Ardennes Offensive".

The U.S. counterattack begins; lacking winter gear, G.I.'s wear bedsheets for snow camouflage over summer uniforms.

I once asked a retired Sergeant Major: "How did you do it? How on Earth did you guys hold out against tanks?

His reply: "We did it because we had to do it. We had no choice; it was them or us."

Airborne Infantry vs. Armor = Airborne wins.

"But how did you deal with the cold?" I asked.

"We just did whatever it took."

"I mean, all you guys had was bedsheets. I mean, how cold was it?"

"Oh Lord, it was so cold, it was so cold. On Christmas Day they brought turkey stew up to us on the front line. We had to go back from our fighting positions, one at a time, go get our chow. It was so cold, by the time you'd get back to your foxhole, the turkey stew was frozen in your canteen cup. I have never been so cold in my life, before or since."

The weather finally clears, the Allies flex their air supremacy and airborne resupply on Bastogne begins.

I've heard that story so many times, from so many sources, it has to be true. I cannot imagine cold like that. For that matter, I can't imagine combat of such intensity: fighting tanks armed only with Infantry small arms and 2.7 inch bazooka rounds that just bounce off Panzer frontal armor.

Opening Christmas Presents.

Merry Christmas, Team. Remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines - ours and our Allies - keeping us safe & free in the combat zones, so far away. Keep them in your prayers.





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