Items of interest
From time to time your Ol' Editor sees items in other newspapers which would be of interest to Checkerboard readers. A few are listed here in condensed form.
TIME, Inc published a special issue describing in words and photos the European Theatre fighting of World War II, defeats and triumphs from September 1944 to May 1945. 99er veteran and noted author Joe Doherty shared them with us. The pages make mention of the 99th Division as the principle defenders of the critical Elsenborn Ridge defensive line. Joe said it's about time the 99th got some attention in BOB accounts.
"On the northern flank of the German attack, outside the town of Elsenborn, young Americans from the 99th Infantry Division, an untested outfit, stopped Sepp Dietrich's advancing tanks cold, preserving Allied control of the vital Elsenborn Ridge, which dominated two vital roadways."
Tillie Kimmes Hansen, a loyal friend of returning veterans of the 99th, died April 25, 2005. Tillie often joined tour groups, rode on the coach, and explained how the war changed the lifestyle of people in Belgium and Luxembourg. She became a legend.
Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge (VBOB) will host the annual reunion Sept 28 to Oct. 2 at the Holiday Inn Airport, Pittsburgh, PA.
The Railsplitter, official publication of the 84th Infantry Division, carried a well- researched article on the Battle of the Bulge. It stated that half a million American men, equal to 31 divisions, and 600,000 Germans fought for weeks in the frigid Ardennes. There were 800 tanks destroyed, 19,000 Americans (out of 81,000 casualties) died. And nearly 100,000 Germans were killed, wounded, or captured.
An article in Bulge Bugle quoted Gen. George Patton as saying, "The 2 1/2-ton GMC truck was our most valuable weapon."
Retired Army Colonel Charles Johnson, a West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, and president of the Tri-County Council of Vietnam-Era Veterans, in a keynote address before that organization called the Battle of the Bulge "one of the most momentous military engagements in world history." He said a single word comes to mind, "Courage." Those who fought in the Battle of the Bulge are "walking, living, breathing examples of courage," Johnson said.
"Tell our story" said Ken Worrall, veteran of the 101st Airbone recalled "The Year Without Christmas" in an article in the Dec. 24, 2004, issue of the Columbus Dispatch: "I'm sorry, I can't help it. World War II veterans didn't used to do this sort of thing. They didn't talk about the war. They certainly did not stand in front of a group of people and get emotional about it. But in the past 10 years, as more and more of them have died, those remaining have decided they need to talk about the war, to teach others. We just want to be remembered," Worrall said. "The only way to do that is to tell our story."
Words to the Army Song, an adaptation of the former Field Artillery Song, are as follows:
"First to fight for the right, and to build the nation's might, and The Army Goes Rolling Along.
"Proud of all we have done, fighting till the battle's won, and The Army Goes Rolling Along.
"Then it's The Army's on its way. Count off the cadence loud and strong!
"For where e'er we go, you will always know the The Army Goes Rolling Along."
Carl W. Hall, 99th veteran of the 1st Bn/394 Inf. Reg., has compiled a seven-page bibliography of book titles which deal with the Battle of the Bulge. Carl will share them free of charge to those who send a self-addressed envelope bearing 60 cents postage to: VBOB, Hall Bibliography, PO Box 101418, Arlington VA 22210-4418.
Brig. Gen. William Carlson made the keynote address before a group of Battle of the Bulge veterans on Dec. 16, 2004 in Orlando, Fl.
He said, in part, "GIs, their bodies numb, were blue-lipped, and chilled to the bone. The night sky was aflame with shimmering lights and pulsating patterns — casting an eerie, ghostly light in the fog and mist over the snow-covered field of battle.
"For a brief moment in history, these men held our nation's destiny in their hands. They did not fail us. They blew the trumpets that tumbled the walls. Theirs was the face of victory, super heroes, super patriots, their legacy, victory — victory in the greatest battle ever fought by the United States Army.
"But the cost of victory was high. There, on that cold brutal field of battle 19,000 young Americans answered the angel's trumpet call and had a rendezvous with death.
"As we muster here today we remember and pay tribute to all those brave young warriors who served with honor and won that battle.
"These are the soldiers who in the hours when the earth's foundation shook and the ground did tremble, stood their ground.
"When the smoke had cleared, more than 120,000 enemy soldiers lay stiff in the snow, wounded, or captured, and more than 800 enemy tanks were left burning, eventually to rust in the wooded hills of the Ardennes.
"Ask now, with your heads bowed, 'from where, God, came such men as these?'"