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Rader, Dutcher, Langford escape the net

Rader, Dutcher, Langford escape the net

Rader, Dutcher, Langford escape the net

n Bazooka team gets back to

battalion despite Capt. Plume

     Although pulled from the 2nd Platoon at Camp Myles Standish and sent to Company HQ, when he arrived at the Siegfried Line, Don Rader was assigned to the 1st Platoon to S/Sgt. Otha Langford's first squad as a bazooka man with Roy Dutcher as his loader.

     Don talks about Dec. 16: ". . . at about 6 a.m. we were awakened by an artillery barrage that lasted nearly two hours. When it first started, I thought it was our own artillery dropping short rounds; but when the barrage stopped, German soldiers in great numbers crossed the International highway to the right of our outpost position into other squads of our own K Company.

     "We didn't fire initially, and were not attacked in the initial onslaught; however, Sgt. Langford thought Germans were in the forest behind us, and ordered us to be quiet till he could go to the company CP as the artillery had already knocked out all communications. [He] returned in a few minutes and led us to the company CP which had once been a woodcutter's cabin.

     "We were greeted by Captain Plume and radio operator Sgt. Warrick. My first observation of Capt. Plume was the way he was dressed. He apparently had been in his sleeping bag during the artillery barrage and ensuing infantry attack, and had just slipped on his combat boots and leather jacket over his silk pajamas. He addressed Sgt. Langford, 'Sergeant, we're surrounded; you'd just as well surrender.' And to that Sgt. Langford said: 'Captain Plume, you can go straight to hell; we're getting out of here.' So with that, Langford led us west leaving both men standing in the CP."

     Don said they moved west through the snow until they reached our mortar positions, where Lt. Holloway told them to take up positions to the left of his mortars.

     "The man next to me was a young man named Green; I believe he was killed later. Within a short time . . . I could see soldiers coming from the CP area in the front. As they came closer, I could see only their legs as they came down the hill, and then their whole body. They were speaking German! I fired.

     "I grew up in a German community that spoke German and I could recognize it immediately and fired. As soon as I fired, a voice came from the mortar positions saying not to fire anymore as they were our own men. This scared me, but in a short time, whoever called out could see that they were Germans wearing GI overcoats, probably taken from prisoners. A battle ensued during which time Lt. Holloway was killed, probably a blast from a burp gun in his throat.

     "The mortar men did a fantastic job of firing at close range. I heard later that they took their barrels out of their base plate and held the barrels more straight up in order to do damage at close range. With our few rifles and two mortars, we dispersed the Germans and they retreated back up the hill."

     Battalion ordered the group to fall back a few at a time, dig in around a defensive position. By morning the Germans struck again. "After some close fighting, orders were passed down to withdraw west toward Krinkelt. I took off like everyone else; I overtook an anti-tank officer who had a gun near where we had been the day before."

     Headed to Krinkelt, they passed 2nd Division troops digging in a defense line. Entering Krinkelt they encountered traffic jams and shells falling everywhere. Don hitched a ride on a Cannon/393 truck, finally arriving at Elsenborn.

Reprinted from K/393 Kapers