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WHY WAS I SPARED?  (1 of 4)
Note:  All spelling was retained from the original
It seems Christmas Eve's have always been the longest days of my life. Especially when I was a child, anticipating Christmas, the gifts and everything associated with it. December 24, 1944 was no different, in the forest of northern Belgium where the 82nd Airborne Division had been placed to stop the rapidly advancing German Army. I was in Company G, 3rd Platoon of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment. General Gavin decided to withdraw some of the 508th P.I.R. on the evening and night of December 24th, thereby straightening out and strengthening our line of defense against the advancing German Army. I say "withdraw" because we had not fired a shot at the enemy, but had given up ground that later required hard fighting to regain. We withdrew about 8 miles by midnight on December 24, 1944. Germans were everywhere it seemed, requiring extreme caution on our part not to disclose our position to the enemy.

Early on Christmas morning, we arrived in the Belgium town of Erria, where we dug in to repell the oncoming Germans. The ground was frozen about 6 to 8 inches deep, making it hard to dig a foxhole, yet the digging helped us to stay warm. During Christmas Day, we became familiar with our surroundings. We were issued extra ammunition: 60 MM Mortar, hand grenades, and bandoleers for our rifles. Familes had been moved out of the area for their safety. We had been promised and received a turkey dinner for Christmas. The dinner was a little cold, however. Robert Lindsey and I were foxhole buddies. After breaking through the frozen earth, on Christmas Day, we dug a nice foxhole, large enough to accomodate both of us. We cut small sapling trees to put across the top, placing boards we found in the barn on top of the trees. Then we threw dirt on top of that, hoping it would stop shrapnel. We left an entrance from which we could get in and out or fire our rifles.

On December 26th, activity began to pick up; sniper fire was being received in our platoon area from time to time. Guard duty assignments were made and my tour was from 10:00 PM to 12:00 midnight. I had walked up to the Company Command Post, then returned to the general area of our squad for most of my duty time. I could hear firing in front of our lines, but nothing close.

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