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Up Hodge (2) Hodge (3) Hodge (4)
 
WHY WAS I SPARED?  (4 of 4)

Some time later, "I" Company began their counterattack. One soldier had thrown a white phosphate grenade and it hit the metal window frame and dropped to the ground outside before exploding. Some of the shrapnal came into the building and landed on the back of one of the Germans hand, causing a painful burn. The soldier that threw the grenade was wounded in the heel and was captured and put in the room with me. From where I was, I could see through the door of the room and out the side door I was brought in through by the frightened German. You could tell something was beginning to happen because gun fire began picking up. Finally, I saw a trooper from "I" Company place his machine gun in the intersection and began firing down into the area where we were. The Germans began leaving the building and I recall the last fellow to leave looked over at us and kind of smiled and gave a salute as he left. I do recall our troopers had fixed bayonets and we could hear the Germans screaming from the area where our mortar was.

I learned later that Sgt. Hess, Swint, and the other two in our squad were about 100 yards behind us as we rounded the corner of the building. They saw what happened to Lindsey and me. Thinking both of us were killed, they went down some stairs to the basement. This is where they stayed until after "I" Company had cleared the area.

As our comrades came up to the building, we shouted and told them there were no Germans left, only two wounded troopers in the building. One of the men helped us get back to our aid station, about 100 yards behind the main intersection of Erria. We were a bunch of wounded troopers helping each other as best we could. To our immediate front, was a field where fighting had taken place earlier. Some Germans were wounded and begging for help. I recall thinking, if some were wounded, some could still be alive and armed. Therefore, I found a rifle and stood guard over our wounded. Nothing happened though, and at daybreak we were moved to the regimental aid station for treatment and relay to hospitals where our wounds could be treated. Our regimental surgeon, while examing me, kept looking at my head for a wound. Finally, he asked me if I was wounded anywhere other than my mouth. My reply was, "no" and he began helping me take the overcoat off that was given to me earlier. My comrades brains were still on the collar and back of the coat.

Later that morning, an ambulance loaded up a group of us to take us back to the hospital. Since I was not a stretcher case, I was placed in the front with the driver. As we began our journey back, it was clearly evident a major battle had taken place. Our guys were bringing the dead to the roadside to be picked up later by trucks. Most were Germans, yet some were our guys. I feel certain some of the dead had only been wounded, but died later as a result of exposure because it was extremely cold. We then began passing mile after mile of our armored vehicles, which were getting ready to launch a counteroffensive on the Germans. Boy, did I feel great when I saw these men and tanks. About this time, the morphine I had received at the regimental aid station plus the warm sunshine coming in the cab of the ambulance, began to make me sleepy. But before I drifted off, I remembered wondering why was I spared and so many others died. Why?

John H. Hodge, Jr.

 

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