Veterans

December 19, 2012

Vets gather to honor thousands felled at Battle of the Bulge

Veterans of what became the greatest land battle in the history of the U.S. Army gathered at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Dec. 16, to remember and pay tribute to the 19,000 soldiers who didn’t return home from the Battle of the Bulge, which raged in Europe from Dec. 16, 1944 to Jan. 25, 1945.

Sons, daughters and grandchildren accompanied the former soldiers, who are all in their 80s and 90s, to the memorial where wreaths were presented by the ambassadors of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In a follow-on ceremony, a wreath was laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns by the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.

John D. Bowen, vice president of the Battle of the Bulge Historical Foundation and recording secretary of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, said about 88 veterans and family members attended the wreath-laying. He noted that while there are about 3,000 Bulge veterans around the country, there are another 1,500 who are associate members. Associates include family members and anyone who has an interest in the battle.

“We have more and more sons and daughters coming to these events,” Bowen said. “The benefit to them is that when the veterans get together, they talk among themselves about their experiences, then they open up more to their children who haven’t heard their stories.”

Aside from being the most territorially expansive battle of World War II, stretching along the Siegfried Line from The Netherlands border to Belgium and Luxembourg, the Battle of the Bulge was fundamentally Adolph Hitler’s final offensive at stopping the Allied drive into Germany.

The battle occurred during one of the coldest winters on record in Europe.

“That was a cold, cold winter in ’44 and ’45,” said Mike Levin, 93, who fought with the 7th Armored Division in the Bulge.

The battle pitted roughly 610,000 Allied troops against 500,000 Axis soldiers. Had the German army been able to encircle the four American armies, Hitler had intended to sue for a negotiated peace. The Reich however failed, losing more than 85,000 troops. In the process, the Allies liberated Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as France, during one of the coldest winters in Europe.

Jan Matthysen, the Belgian ambassador said recognizing the soldiers who fought at the Battle of the Bulge was a celebration that his country does every year by laying a wreath at Arlington and hosting a Christmas party for the veterans at the embassy.

“This is a small part of the celebration we do every year in Bastogne where our monument of the Battle of the Bulge stands and where Belgian school children learn the American anthem,” he said. “Each and every young generation continues to commemorate those Soldiers.”

Luxembourg ambassador Jean-Louis Wolzfeld said the only battle his country experienced during World War II was the Battle of the Bulge, but it was the outcome of that battle which allowed his country to regain its sovereignty after five years of suffering under Germany.

“We have always since then throughout generations been very grateful to those young American men and women who did not hesitate to cross the Atlantic far from their own country to save us in a very selfless manner,” Wolzfeld said. “We have enormous gratitude to the Americans who participated in that operation.”

In honor of the price paid for Luxembourg’s freedom, the U.S was granted 50 acres for a cemetery where more than 5,000 American service members are buried, including Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 
 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>