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-3-

I couldn't see my hand before my face. I just walked straight ahead until I saw two strips of phosphor. The troopers who were on the truck that turned over got on other trucks. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

On December 21st. we moved on to Goronne: then on the 22nd, we moved on to Vielsalm and dug in on the west side of the Salm River. We were told that a big offensive by the Germans was very likely from St. Vith, about ten miles east of us. We were to stop them at the river.

Tanks loaded with soldiers rolled through Vielsalm all day on December 23rd. I thought they were going to help us stop the German offensive. I found out later that it was the Seventh Armor, retreating from St. Vith. They had held the line since the sixteenth.

After the Seventh Armored had withdrawn, they blew up the bridges. All day on the twenty-fourth, we could hear the sound of vehicles that were repairing the bridges. We could not see the bridges.

All day on Christmas Eve, we were getting ready to make our stand. We tied grenades between trees all along the area between us and the river. We dug our foxholes deeper and bigger.

About 4:00 p.m. we got word from the C. P. (Command Post) that the entire regiment would make a strategic withdrawal. We would let them have Vielsalm and take it back later.

Three platoons, one from each battalion, would stay behind as a holding force. My platoon, Second Platoon, B Company, First Battalion, was one of these platoons of forty-eight men each.

After the main body moved out, we were ready, dug in and waiting. Of course we were expecting to get the orders to pull back too. The orders never came.

It was snowing. It was very pretty and very cold. It was getting dark now. I looked across the road in front of a building that housed our Command Post. There was a pile of hand grenades - about thirty - left by mistake as the main body moved out. I had a big foxhole full of straw. I decided it would be a good idea to hide them under the straw so the Germans would not find then when they came.

It's almost dark now. For some reason, Lieutenant Rockwell (our leader) had gone into the woods in front of us. No one knows why. As he was coming out of the woods (it's dark now), Sgt. Bogey said, "Lumber." The password was "Jack." The lieutenant did not say, "Jack." Sgt. Bogey shot and killed him. We put his body in the C. P.

We were waiting for orders to pull back. Orders never came.

It's about 9:00 p.m. now. I'm freezing. All of a sudden, two small German planes fly over. They drop two or three bombs and ten or twelve paratroopers. Everyone in the rear guard begins to fire at the paratroopers. It turned out that the paratroopers were dummies.

When you fire an Ml rifle in the dark, a flame comes out the barrel of the rifle. We had given our position away. Now the Germans knew exactly where we were.
One of the bombs hit a wood shed and killed a lieutenant from A Company. We were told that the next day. They left him and Lieutenant Rockwell together.
My adrenalin was working. I wasn't cold any more.

Things are quiet now. We are anxious for orders to pull back. They never come!

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