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THEY EVEN TOOK MY DOG TAGS

Sgt. Joe Bullard squad leader in the 2nd Platoon of D. Co. spent a quiet night on a road block in front of the drop zone near Vox Hill, Sept 17/18, 1944, but toward morning things heated up. The German 88s, 20mm, and small arms fire zeroed in on their position. Several paratroopers were killed and others wounded and the platoon was cut off from rejoining the rest of D Company. Lt. Tutwiler surrendered the platoon to avoid further bloodshed.

Two members of the 2nd platoon, Louis Guzzetti and [Albert C.?] Anderson decided they would make a run for it rather than surrender. Lou Guzzetti said, "We were shot at, but were probably running so fast the bullets couldn't catch up with us,"

The Jerries marched the healthy paratroopers (including James Rizzuto) off toward Germany and moved the wounded into a Dutch home. Among the wounded was Joe Bullard who recalled, "The Germans stripped us down to our shorts even took our dog tags; then they used our uniforms to wear on patrols."
Joe and another wounded GI were placed in a bed together. Joe said, "A Dutch woman gave me a quart jar of canned meat which was the only food we had before we were found by our troops."

Two days after they were captured, D Company counterattacked using mortars to prepare for the assault. Joe remembered the shells hitting the roof of the houses and the slate shingles falling down through the ceiling on his bed, so he and the other wounded soldier got under the bed to avoid the falling debris.
Paratroopers from D Co. found Bullard under the bed. He and the other wounded were then evacuated. Bullard described what followed:

"For a time I lapsed in and out of consciousness. When I became more alert, I realized I was hearing voices in another language. All the other wounded were speaking German, but the medics were speaking English. Without my dog tags and uniform, the medics assumed that I was a German and I ended up in a tent full of German wounded. It didn't take me long to convince the medics of my true identity and they moved me to a hospital for Americans."

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Note 1: Anderson missed the Normandy jump; he had been held back in base camp in Nottingham because he couldn't obtain $10,000 G.I. insurance.  Colonel Lindquist tried to get it for him but the Colonel's request was denied.  Anderson made the Holland and Ardennes operations, however.   Ironically, he never made use of the insurance after all but probably didn't mind.

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Note 2: When James Rizzuto and Joe Bullard attended the 508th Reunion in Charleston, SC in 1997, they saw each other for the first time since Rizzuto marched off as a prisoner of war leaving the seriously injured sergeant at the road block, Sept. 18, 1944 --- a special reunion 43 years later.
 

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