Dear 508 Veterans,
or Friends of the 508th
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
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: