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
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
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
After the Seventh Armored had withdrawn, they blew up the bridges.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
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