Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Snow and War

Seventy-three years ago today, German Panzers tore through American lines in Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge was on.

In some ways, the German attack, which they called Operation Watch on the Rhine, was as foolhardy as Operation Market Garden. Both plans were overly ambitious and ended in failure. One difference was that the Western Allies had the resources to recover quickly from their combat losses. The Germans did not. American resistance was far stronger than the Germans anticipated. When the weather cleared on the 23rd, American defenders in Bastogne received resupply and medical aid by air, while the P-47s bombed and strafed every German tank and truck that they could see. The Luftwaffe tried a massive air-to-ground strike and ended up suffering so many losses, especially from the new VT-fuzed antiaircraft shells that they were effectively knocked out of the war.

But that's not what I want to write about.

My father was drafted into the Army when he turned 18. Things had cranked up to the point, by then, that when a young man registered for the draft, he could expect to receive orders to report in very short order. Dad was assigned to an infantry unit. That unit was training to fight in Europe and supposedly was to be into the war in the fall of 1944.

Sometime before then, Dad received orders to transfer to a tank-destroyer unit. It seemed that there was an entry in his personnel file that said that he had been trained in them. He hadn't. He'd never been near one. He told his sergeant that. The sergeant said not to worry, they'd teach him what he needed to know.

And so, Dad became a tank destroyer.


The tank destroyer battalion was slated to be in Operation Olympic. They were in Hawaii when the war ended. Dad's original infantry unit was in Belgium in December, 1944.

All this is family lore, of course. My father's records, along with millions of others, were lost in the National Archives Fire in St. Louis over 40 years ago. Dad passed in his early 70s from lung cancer.

But it gave me a lot of patience, when I was in the service, when I had to deal with the trials, tribulations and buraucracy of BuPers. For it was similar incompetents that may have saved my dad's life and, by extension, the lives of his children and grandchildren.

9 comments:

OldAFSarge said...

A salute to your Dad and the many others who serve, and still serve.

Great post Comrade Misfit.

Deadstick said...

My records could have affected me differently. I had checked an item that said "Qualified light aircraft pilot, non-rated", which theoretically could have come up in a post-nuclear-war scenario....but on a records check several years later, I found it had gone down as "Qualified parachutist".

My glass is raised to your dad.

Anonymous said...

As an AF vet who saw combat during the Tet Offensive and other odd moments while stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base, I'm glad your Dad did not have to kill tanks. But I am glad he served and a salute to him and you for doing so.

Mike Jones said...

Good looking guy.

Marc said...

My father was in the Navy during the war. His brothers were in the Army and Marines, but they all didn't talk much about their service to their kids. Good to know your father passed on some things to family about his service - I'm sure my fathers and uncles service information was likewise destroyed, and I doubt it would be more than assignments, rank, and dates of service if it survived.

Sarah said...

A salute from a civilian to your dad, you, and all that serve however their country asks.
Great post, and thanks for sharing some family history.

My dad was the youngest of 7 brothers, and finally joined the Navy in 1944. He ended up in the Pacific, one of those whose lives was probably saved by the war-ending nuclear attacks. So I may never have been born if it were not for those. I don't know how I feel about that.

Randell Annunziato said...

Thank you for sharing. As we all age and die off, so will the the stories our parents and grandparents told us. It's a different world out there EB. And I know it isn't mine anymore.

Comrade Misfit said...

The stories won't die if they've been preserved.

Comrade Misfit said...

Marc, my recollection is that, other than certain high-interest records (like William Hitler), Navy and Marine Corps records were not stored in the St. Louis archives. You may be able to obtain them.