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Guest Commentary: We owe our freedom to GIs who fought Battle of the Bulge

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Dec. 16, 1944: Even though it has been 64 years, the memories are still vivid and overwhelming.

Unfortunately, relatively few Americans are aware of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Nineteen thousand American soldiers were killed with more than 70,000 casualties. It was the largest combat action in the history of the American military.

On Dec. 12, we were pulled out of the miserable Hurtgen Forest. We had been in constant combat since D-Day. The green, dark hell of Hurtgen was filled with a network of fortified bunkers that no shell could penetrate. It was a horrible place, with dense fir trees. It rained constantly — mud was everywhere. We lived in cold, wet foxholes like animals. We put logs over our holes to protect us from artillery shells bursting above in the trees, showering us with fragments.

Hurtgen was one of the most costly, ill-advised battles we ever fought. Many historians have said it was an awful mistake — and of little strategic value. We could have gone around that dark fortified forest. Thirty-thousand American GIs were killed or wounded.

We left that terrible place completely exhausted and battle weary and headed for the first rest period since Normandy six months earlier.

We went to Spa, Belgium. It was like going to heaven — hot food, new uniforms, a warm place to sleep out of the weather.

While there, our beloved Sgt. Stamborsky, who had been wounded in Normandy, came back to us. He chose to return to his outfit rather than go home. He jokingly said, “I knew you guys couldn’t win the war without me!” He was like a father to us — we were teenagers; he was 30, an old man to us.

Those few days in Spa were wonderful: mail from home, hot showers, a movie.

It all ended on Dec. 16. Out of the fog and snow and bitter cold, three German armies crashed through our lines on a 50-mile front. Nineteen hundred pieces of heavy German artillery bombarded the Ardennes. Two hundred and fifty-thousand German soldiers and 1,000 tanks and associated guns attacked, defended by green American troops with no combat experience. Shells shrieked overhead, mortars and machine guns fired, search lights stabbed through the morning light. V1 buzz bombs dropped to the ground. It was a complete surprise, and we were completely unprepared.

We climbed into trucks and headed for the Ardennes. After a few hours, we could hear the noise of battle, and as we got closer, we saw something we had never seen before — American soldiers streaming to the rear, retreating, full of fear and panic. These were the green troops who had replaced us.

We went into that unbelievable hell. The cold was unbearable. The wind cut like a knife. Our buddies in the sky couldn’t help us. The fog was so thick, there was no chance to fly. We couldn’t dig foxholes. The ground was frozen, the roads like ice.

It was the worst winter in Europe in 20 years. Our 1st Division had fought the Germans in Africa, Sicily and Europe. “No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great — duty first.” We knew what to do.

The Germans were now up against a tough, seasoned, combat-ready division. We made our stand and there was no retreat. On Dec. 17 the word went through the line that Kampfgruppe Peiper (part of the 1st SS Panzer Division) had executed 120 American prisoners in a field in Malmedy, Belgium. That made us even more determined to beat the enemy. We fought like demons.

On Christmas Eve our Sgt. Stamborsky stepped on a mine and was killed. We felt unbelievable grief. We spent the night in an old barn with the sound of battle all around.

On Christmas Day the skies cleared, and our bombers and fighter planes came to help. We saw the first German jet streak across the sky. We all felt we were lucky that plane hadn’t been available to the Germans earlier.

On Dec. 27 I was hit by German shrapnel. The wounds were not life-threatening and I rejoined my platoon in a few days.

The German advance was stopped by the middle of January — the enemy was on the run. The rough, battled-hardened American troops had stopped the German advance. If we hadn’t succeeded, the war could have gone on for years, or we could have been defeated.

As we moved forward in early January 1945, we saw thousands of our buddies lying dead in the snow. That memory will stay with me always. How can we ever forget what they did?

The Battle of the Bulge will always be an heroic, tragic, sad memory. Every Dec. 16 my mind goes back and remembers. The freedom we enjoy today is because of the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women of the second world war, who fought not only in the Battle of the Bulge, but in all the battles around the world.

We owe them so much.

Thomas today is one of the world’s most famous narrators and voice artists on TV and radio programs, commercials and documentaries. The Daily News will present another of Thomas’ 1944 war memoirs on Christmas Eve.


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With all due respect Mr Thomas.

Let us first start with the fact that 75% of the entire European conflict was fought on the Eastern front by the Whermacht against Communism.

You know Mr Thomas -Communism!

While Ronald Wilson Reagan was a Liberal Democrat in Hollywood the National Socialist Germans were fighting against the Communists in essentially a Civil War in Germany during the late 1920's and especially 1929-1932. The Communists were called the Rote Front.

Now let's fast foward to 1939. A world war is declared against Germany over the return of the Danzig corridor which was rightfully German. There was a treaty signed in 1934 between Germany and Poland that prohibited a third party from interfering in any dispute between Germany and Poland few know this of course.

After the Germans attacked and defeated the Poles they found documents in Warsaw and later Paris that showed blatant US involvement (even more than England) in the whole affair. They later pubish them in a book called "The White Book"

FDR wanted the war and economically needed the war because his policies were a failure unlike Hitlers in the 1930's.

Indeed how ironic Mr Thomas. No?

So Stalin invades the other half of Poland and invaded Finland in 1939. Then invaded Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Bessarabia in 1940. What no declaration of war from the noble English and Americans?

Oh thats OK right Mr Thomas?

FDR sees his chance to now be the global replacement for England, also to have his business cronies who put him office to make money selling every supply imaginable Tanks, Trucks, Food, Oil, everything the butcher Stalin needs to stay alive against the powerful German Whermacht of 1941-1944.

I guess profit triumphed over humanity Mr Thomas. No?

The conflict was taken up by the Germans to defeat the greatest threat to Western/European culuture (Communism) and the greatest criminal in history (Stalin) or as FDR called him 'Uncle Joe".

Did you know Mr Thomas that men from all over Europe volunteered to fight WITH Germany against Communism? Austrians, Finns, Hungarians, Romanians, Dutch, Belgians, Norwegians, Italians, Spainish, Ukranians whom the Germans liberated, Frenchman, Estonians, Latvians and Lithunians whom also the Germans liberated.

The German offensive you talk about was actually quite an achievement. It really shows the genius of German organization and drive. They had no air cover (once again it was all in the Eastern front) limited fuel, and by the way the German troops even in the elite units were not nearly the caliber of the 1939-1943 units. Most actually were Volkgrenadiers simply the bottom end of quality.

Then FDR throws the whole thing away by giving his buddy Uncle Joe all of Eastern Europe which is then totally exploited for 60 years by Communism.

#1 Posted by Dollard on December 17, 2008 at 11:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh and by the way it never was established that the Germans even committed the executions at Malmedy.

The members of Joachim Peipers unit were subjected to torture and depravity as a way to "confess". Sound familiar?

The sentences were all communted and none served any length of time.

Peiper was an oustanding officer who fought very bravely on the Eastern front for 3 years under Sepp Dietrich - 1st SS Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler Division.

A US Major, captured by Peiper, even testifed on his behalf during the shame trial. And it was Republicans in Congress who helped get the mens sentences commuted.

Peiper well after the war he lived quietly in France. He was killed by a fire bomb in 1976 by.. guess who Mr Thomas?

Communist Radicals in France!!!

#2 Posted by Dollard on December 17, 2008 at 12:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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