REDEMPTION FOR A BULLY

you-give-us-the-fire-wwii-posterI ran into bullying twice in the Army. And, once, I was a bully myself.

Army bully number one walked behind me on a march that was the graduation exercise for Infantry basic training. If you made it through 20 miles of Georgia heat carrying a rifle and back pack, you were ready to ship out for combat in Europe, replacing soldiers who had been killed.

After we marched 15 miles, the soldier behind me began to tread on my heels and he

kept doing it till my temper lit up. Though my tormenter was a lot taller and outweighed me by 30 pounds, I yelled: “Get off my heels, you _____, or when we get back to the barracks I will break your _______head.”

The two expletives were words combining the letters c and k, which make a strong anger snarl.

He stopped and when we were back at our barracks, his eyes avoiding mine, we went our separate ways. Continue reading

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Did My High School Classmate Help Massacre Nazi Soldiers?

MencrossingThey call it the fog of war. It’s a good phrase for how hard it is to keep track of what’s happening during a battle. It may be just as hard to tell what happened after the fighting stops.

This much is clear about the Battle of the Bulge and a small town in Belgium named Malmedy – Nazi SS troops slaughtered 100 or more American soldiers there who were their prisoners.

At a trial after the war, there were questions raised (by the Germans) about whether some of the American prisoners had picked up rifles they threw to the ground when they surrendered and resumed fighting. That story is obscured by the aforementioned fog but what is very clear is that a massacre took place of 100 Americans.

This all happened in winter; the fallen bodies froze; and forensic study of the preserved bodies confirmed they had been cut down in groups by machine gun fire and many bodies showed a single shot to the head at close range, evidence they had been shot again after they fell to be sure they were dead — double executions in the thorough style of Germany’s well-trained army. Continue reading

Running With Eggs

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A PR pose during basic training

What is it like to have your country taken over by an enemy Army, while it is defeating your own country’s Army? I hope we never find the answer to that question here in the United States.

But that’s the way life was in Germany in 1945 when it was on the verge of defeat after nearly conquering all of Europe. It was to become an occupied country with its population at the mercy of enemy soldiers as we swept through village after village pursuing the German Army.

I was in the conquering Army and Germans told us when we got to talking to them — the them mainly being frauleins, German women — that they were happy their part of Germany was being captured now by Americans rather than Russians.

Rape and rough treatment was the theme of the narrative they picked up from relatives fleeing the Russian-captured portion of Germany, the East.

But what were we Americans like as conquerors? Continue reading