On Jan. 25, 2023, under cold gray skies and sleet, two World War II U.S. Army veterans returned to Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge — the last major German offensive campaign on the western front, which turned the tide of the war in the Allies’ favor.
Darrel Bush and John Landry witnessed a wreath-laying at the Battle of the Bulge Memorial before laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Neither of the men seemed bothered by the weather, explaining that it was much colder 78 years ago in Europe.
On Dec. 16, 1944, Adolph Hitler launched three German armies toward American troops in Belgium and Luxembourg in a last, failed bid to prevent the Allies from entering Germany. The attack drove a large bulge into Allied lines—hence the name the Battle of the Bulge. It took the Allies, consisting primarily of American troops, more than a month to defeat the German armies. The campaign, a turning point in the war, officially ended on Jan. 25, 1945.
Both veterans recalled fighting the cold as well as the Germans. “It was 30 below on the day that I was shot,” said Bush, a rifleman with the 75th Infantry Division, who caught a bullet in his right thigh.
Landry, who served in the 776th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion and drove trucks for the famed “Red Ball Express” that supplied the frontline troops, simply said, when asked about the fighting, “I don’t want to do it again.”
At Arlington National Cemetery, President and CEO of the Battle of the Bulge Association, John Mohor, oversaw the ceremony at the Battle of the Bulge Memorial. He then asked two people whose fathers had been killed during the battle to lay the wreath. Luxembourg Ambassador Nicole Bintner-Bakshian and Belgium’s Deputy Chief of Mission Sophie Karlshausen joined them as a bugler sounded Taps.
The events concluded as Bush and Landry laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Both men proudly wore symbols of their service. Landry wore a black “World War II Veteran” baseball cap, while Bush wore a Battle of the Bulge baseball cap and his Eisenhower jacket bearing his medals.
As they descended the marble steps to the Tomb, Landry’s son held his arm, while Bush was accompanied by his friend Pierre Oury. After laying the wreath, the two snapped to attention and saluted, honoring their comrades who gave all to serve their nation—and the world.