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Woman researches grandfather's history

Woman researches grandfather's service

E-mail exchange offers help

     I am searching for information about my grandfather, Hubert "Dutch" Hoefle. He was with the I&R Platoon, 99th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge.

     He died three years ago on Veterans Day and as his granddaughter and a history major I have many unanswered questions. I am determined not to let the memory of his selfless bravery and the bravery of thousands of other young men be forgotten.

     If anyone remembers my grandfather, or can direct me where I can find some information, please contact me.

Kimberly Handley

69295 Gumwood Rd.

Bremen IN 46506


The following answer was sent to Handley by Lyle Bouck:

     "I have a copy of the Payroll Roster for Regimental Headquarters Company dated Nov. 30, 1944. Listed is an entry for Hubert E. Hoefle, ASN 35349979, Private w/a Class E allotment of $50 per month and a class N allotment of $6.50 per month for insurance. I do not recall knowing this individual. He was NOT in the I&R Platoon at any time between April 10, 1944 and Dec. 17, 1944. He may have been in the I&R before or after those two dates. This I am unable to address. Bob Lambert or Lou Kalil may be able to recall this gentleman."

Vernon Leopold adds:

     If your grandfather was assigned to the 99th Infantry Division in 1943 it would have been shortly after the division had become garrisoned at Camp Maxey TX, following its prior three to six-month Louisiana Maneuvers. At that time the division was stripped of most of its soldiers who were then sent as replacements to Italy to replace heavy combat casualties of units engaged in the Italian campaign. The 99th Division, so I understand, was then reduced almost to just its non-commissioned officers.

     The people so shipped overseas were then replaced with participants of the discontinued Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). This program comprised soldiers whom the Army had selected at the end of their basic training to attend engineering training at various universities. When ASTP was discontinued during the winter of 1943-44, its soldier-students were assigned to various infantry divisions as replacements. Your grandfather could have been one of them; as I was one of them, transferred from the University of Arkansas ASTP unit to the 99th Infantry Division then at Camp Maxey TX.

     I, too, had been trained as a radio operator during my earlier basic training at Camp Wolters TX. When I was sent to the division at Camp Maxey in March 1944, I was initially assigned to Company B of the division's 394th Infantry Regiment. When retraining of the re-staffed division was completed I was then transferred to the Intelligence & Reconnaissance Platoon (I&R) of Headquarters Company, 394th Regiment. I'm going into all this detail in hope that this might stir some specific memories regarding your grandfather's recollections.

     As you correctly relate, we shipped out to England from Boston MA at the end of September 1944, were assigned and re-equipped in the south of England, then transported to LeHavre, France, in October 1944, and inserted into the front lines between Losheimergraben and Elsenborn in Belgium, just west of the German border.

     On Dec. 10, our I&R Platoon was ordered to temporarily man an outpost opposite Lanzerath, Germany, to guard the southern flank of the V Corps, 1st Army. On Dec. 16, it parried the initial thrust of the German Panzer Division. It inflicted more than 500 casualties and held up the German breakthrough for a critical 12 hours, just long enough to enable Allied High Command to rotate the front line clockwise onto the Elsenborn Ridge to form, what later became known as the north shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge. This stopped the Germans from reaching their objective to recapture Antwerp and so outflank and collapse the Allied forces.

     The platoon members who had held the outpost and 1st Lt. Bouck Jr., were captured by the Germans after they had run out of ammunition. The platoon then received replacements for those who were lost to captivity. Since the reconstituted platoon would hae needed a radio operator, your grandfather might well have been transferred to the platoon at that time from our Regimental Headquarters Company's communications platoon which included wire and radio specialists. This is just a theory which you may wish to explore.

     The critical part in all of this played by the I&R Platoon was not recognized until years later when John Eisenhower documented it in his book Bitter Woods. See Walter E. Lauer's Battle Babies, The Battery Press, Nashville TN 1985; Stephen E. Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers, Simon & Schuster, 1997.

     I, myself, did not participate in this combat as I was sent to the hospital on Dec. 15, 1944. However, 18 of our men did. The survivors were heavily decorated at an Army ceremony at Arlington VA, in 1982. The platoon itself was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

     To obtain additional information about the membership of the platoon after its restaffing with replacements after its Dec. 16, 1944, Lanzerath combat, following which most of its members were taken prisoner by the Germans, I suggest you contact Robert Lambert, 13 Cool Brook, Irvine CA 92717, telephone 714-854-8778. Bob Lambert was not in the outpost during the German onslaught of Dec. 16. He remained in the reconstituted platoon for the rest of the war and may recall your grandfather. Conceivably, your grandfather joined the platoon after Dec. 16 as a replacement.