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From The


Dear 508 Veterans,
            Family Members,
                         or Friends of the 508th

Thoughts ...

I have noticed when I sit down to write these columns I find myself distracted by other duties, and I now know why—no matter how much I enjoy 508-related activities and friendships with members of the association, there is always a deep-seated feeling of sadness within me when I write about people and situations related to the war that took my uncle’s life.

 No matter how I try, I cannot shake this feeling.

 My grandparents were devastated by the loss of their oldest son, but I never had the nerve to ask either of them about Uncle Bill.  I have heard, though, from one of my aunts that her mother (my grandmother) never watched Bill’s movies of the war after he was killed in Belgium.

 And my father told me he dreamed about his brother, Bill, for 25 years after he was killed.  That really stopped me in my tracks.  I cannot imagine losing either of my brothers—it would devastate me. 

 When I attend 508 events, there’s part of me who’s deeply saddened Uncle Bill never got the chance to attend one.  He didn’t get the opportunity to marry, have children, have a career.  Nothing.  He spent most of the last six months of his life in the living hell known as combat.

 Despite the conditions during the Bulge and the trauma he witnessed, Uncle Bill tried to keep a positive attitude about combat and his mission, but losing most of his friends in Normandy and the stress and strain took its toll.

 In Uncle Bill’s last letter to my grandparents dated 19 January 1945 written from Chevron, Belgium, he tried to remain steadfast and upbeat, but he wasn’t really feeling that at all:



Dear Folks;

I have received your letters and about everything I guess, but haven't had much time to write, but decided that if it was the last thing I did tonight I was going to drop you a line.  It is the last thing on the schedule.

Tonight it is snowing again and at times it was so bad that we almost had to stop our jeep because we could not see the roads.  The snow has piled to about 15 inches deep and in snowdrifts it comes to your waist.  The trees have been white and offer scenes that I had only seen in pictures heretofore.  The mountains here in the Ardennes are really beautifully covered.

We are living in a summer home on the side of a hill, overlooking several towns in the valley.  It hasn't been too hard on me, as we have managed to be under cover all the time and have had plenty of heat.  I have a nice fur hooded, down flying jacket that keeps a fellow warm in sub-zero weather.  My flying pants are lined with half-inch wool and with overshoes it has been rather comfortable the whole time….

I have tried so hard to write letters, but there is nothing much to write about except the war, and I don't like to write about that.  I have seen all I want to see of it.  I'd like to answer all the letters I get, but so far I can only muster enough time and mental energy to try and keep the family informed.  So, to cut a letter short I'll stop and hope to be able to write more later.  It is late and I'll have to get up at 0630 this AM.  Goodnight.



Of course, Bill wasn’t the only 508er who didn’t return home after the war. 

Capt. John Breen;  Lt. Hoyt Goodale;  Lt. Joseph Shankey;  Lt. William Scudder;  1st Sgt. Edward Wild;  Sgt. Guy Brown;  Cpl. Floyd Goodman;  Tech. 5th Grade Ellsworth Bartholemew;  Pfc. John Allbright;  Pfc. Lloyd Coffman;  Pfc. Eugene Gawlak;  Pfc. William Lamberson;  Pfc. William Muenster;  Pfc. Wilbur Price;  Pfc. Alton Webster;  Pvt. Harry Ackermann;  Pvt. Benjamin Holloway;  Jr.;  Pvt. Orville Lapham;  Pvt. George Moskalski;  Pvt. Charles Swan;  Pvt. William Williams;  Pvt. Thomas Zervos;  and 771 other Red Devils did not return home after the war either.

 Yes, it is sad the 508 PIR Association is retiring soon, but I think often of those who never got the chance to be a member of the group. 

 We must remember them.

 Bill C. Nation

Email: bnation@sw.rr.com


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