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Attacking South of the German Bulge

by E. Peter Hornburg, 5 INFD 10 INF CO F

E. Peter Hornburg, 5 INFD 10 INF CO F
E. Peter Hornburg, 5 INFD 10 INF CO F

It was dawn on December, 23, 1944 in Luxembourg and we, Co F, 10th Inf. 5th Div, were about to attack in the Ardennes. The German breakthrough had been stalled and they were dug in.Most German troops wore camouflage uniforms. It was another cold day and our company had just spent a miserable night in a farmer’s barn that had little hay and was ready to collapse. We were one of the divisions that General Patton had pulled out of the line farther south and trucked to the Ardennes. This former farm, I believe called the Michaelshaft farm, was at the edge of the forest.

I had spent nearly 5 months with the 5th Division, fighting across Northern France, but still hardly knew anyone. I’d had several foxhole partners—all casualties of one kind or another. At least two were taken out with frozen feet. November and December had been extra brutal months in Northern Europe.

I was picked as one of the scouts who went ahead of the main body of infantrymen. Surprisingly, one of our Sergeants volunteered as the other scout. We had no artillery or tank support. Obviously, no tanks could operate in the forest. I did not see a tank in my nearly five months at the front. So we walked into the forest, the other scout and I, about 50 yards ahead of the others. I recall a few inches of snow on the ground. All was quiet for a while, when two shots rang out. Both the other scout and I went down.

I was shot through the side of my knee, just grazing the bone, but had very little pain. But our other scout got hit in the stomach. Any combat vet will tell you this is unbelievable pain and almost always fatal. I slithered back to a depression in the ground and saw the most unbelievable act of bravery and futility I have ever witnessed. First the medic, then at least two other soldiers, rushed over to try to help the wounded sergeant.
All were hit! Not only could our troops not advance, but now artillery and mortar rounds started coming in.

Eventually an order to withdraw was issued. I stood up and immediately was hit again …. this time a bullet through my lower jaw. Again, I had little pain yet, but I was choking on a mouthful of blood, flesh, bone and teeth. I was in shock. Two guys ran over, put my arms around their shoulders, and we headed back. Shells were exploding in the trees overhead, and the shrapnel was hitting several of our guys at a time. Chaos surrounded us. We were nearly to the edge of the woods …. I could see the farmhouse from where we had started, when a shell hit the tree above us.

I woke up a few seconds later, face down, blood running down over my forehead. I reached up, removed my helmet, and saw two holes about three inches apart. The shrapnel had left a nasty gash in my scalp. Only a fraction of a different angle would have killed me.

Still no pain—just in shock, I guess. The two men assisting me were gone. I’m sure they thought I was dead. I read later that 2/3 of my Company was either killed or wounded that day. Along with lots of others, I was taken back to a tent field hospital, where the Army somehow managed to bring up a rather special Christmas meal the next day (the 24th). I could only watch. The plans were to put me and other seriously wounded on a plane to England, but extremely bad weather stopped those plans.

I was put on a hospital train that took forever to reach the coast, then cross the Channel, and on another train to an Army Hospital in central England. I spent nearly 15 days living on grapefruit and tomato juice through a straw.

Kenneth “Cowboy” Morris Remembers the Battle of the Bulge

by Jan Ross, Associate Member

We, Jan Ross and Brad Peters, have created and maintained a comprehensive web site (www.300thcombatenginersinwwii.com) over the past ten years to recognize Jan’s father’s unit that fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Kenneth “Cowboy” Morris at a rodeo in Paris, Texas, 1953.
Kenneth “Cowboy” Morris at a rodeo in Paris, Texas, 1953.

Tech. 5 Kenneth Morris was a Company A truck driver with the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion in the Battle of the Bulge. He still carries the nickname “Cowboy” because of his time after the war on the international rodeo circuit as a champion bull rider. He continues to live in his home town of Watts, Oklahoma. He attends reunions of the 300th with his extended family in some cases with four generations. His grandson, Congressman Markwayne Mullin represents the Second Oklahoma District in the United States Congress. What follows are some of Cowboy’s recollections from interviews with him at the 300th reunions and transcribed for the 300th web site.   

They had us in this old château in Belgium owned by a cousin of the King of Belgium. They made us move out of the castle. It had a moat all around it with all those fish in it and a drawbridge which was stationary. So they kicked us back out into the mud. As we went across this drawbridge, we had those hand grenades and percussion grenades. So I took a percussion grenade and got right by the rail and dropped that thing into the moat. When it hit and exploded those fish just came up to the top, all dead. That old man was really mad. About a week or so later Lt. Taylor [1 Lt. William H. Taylor, Jr.] said, “Morris, why did you kill the old man’s fish?” I said, ‘What made you think I did it?” He said, “I couldn’t think about anyone else but you that would do it.”

We had two bridges to blow, a railroad bridge and a road bridge. The 84th Division was coming out of there and they had a tank destroyer attached to them. They were supposed to tell us if we were to get cut off and we were supposed to blow the bridges and follow them out. About three o’clock in the morning on the 24th [December] the 84th just left and left us unguarded. Then there was a column of German tanks coming down our road. About a half mile before they got to us they turned to the right and all hell broke loose. Whoever was building a bridge up there really got shot up. A truck of ours later came through and they had run into an ambush and some of them got killed.

Our platoon commander, Lt. Taylor, was one of our best liked officers. I said to him, “Let’s blow these damn bridges and get the hell out of here.” He said, “Let’s wait.” So later I said, “Let me take your jeep and drive and see if I can find a way out of here.” He said, “No, we are staying right here.” Finally, way later, and I shouldn’t have done it, but I said, “Lt. Taylor, I’m responsible for my truck, I’ll load the men up and try to get them out of here. And if you don’t let me do that, I’m going to burn it up, because if we stay till morning we all will be dead. We have to get out of here now.” So he finally said, “Okay blow the bridges.”

I was driving the lead truck when we left and told my men, “If I get hit you jump up here and keep driving.” It was real dark, black, and we just had the cat eyes. I could see the horizon and just kept driving until we got out of those trees. Somebody must have been helping us. The rest of the platoon followed me and we came to another crossroad. We could see a bunch of cat eyes, so we stopped. It was about a dozen of our tanks. So, I said to the Captain of the tank unit, “Where are you guys going.” He said, “There are some engineers cut off in there and we’re going to get them.” I said, “We’re the engineers and we are getting out. There’s no one else up there but Germans.” He said, “We’re coming to fight a war.” And I said, “It would be suicide – those Sherman tanks are no match for those Tigers, don’t do it.” But they followed those tanks up there and I’ve always wondered what happened to them.

Cowboy remembers Ray Gordon. Ray was raised in a little town called Watts in Oklahoma and I was raised in a little town just 10 miles apart. I knew Ray for years before we ever came to the Army. Ray was easy to make mad. You’d tease him a little bit but he’d get over it right quick. One time, we’d been following the tanks all night through a wooded area in Germany. One of the boys built a little old fire. It was cold and wet. We had some cans of gas on the end of the truck and this guy went and got some gas in his steel helmet. Ray had his back to the fire and the guy tried to throw a splash of gas on the fire but it went all over Ray’s back. Ray was on fire. It scared him and he started running. I started after him. I had some blankets in the truck and it took three of us to get him down and throw them blankets on him to get out the fire. He never got burned anywhere but he sure was on fire. He was pretty scared.

One time Ray got mad. We had just gotten packages from home and it was after Christmas. We were stopped and everyone was opening up his packages. I was opening mine and it had a safety razor. It had a little handle that screwed into it. The handle broke off so the razor was no good. I didn’t say nothing and put it back in the box. We got to swapping boxes and I swapped with Ray. When Ray opened it up and saw it was broke he was really mad and jumped up. I said, “Ray, if you was smart, dammit, shut your mouth like I did and you’d have swapped it off to somebody else.” That was Ray. I liked Ray.

We were on this trip south to southern Germany and the war was practically over. We had gone over to the Third Army. It was 1 May and it was snowing. There was this general there and you could tell he had not been there long. He had this red board up there with two big stars shining. So he stopped right beside me and said, “Soldier where are you going?” I thought this must be some kind of joke or something. So I said, “We are attached to this armored division.” So he said again, “Where are you going?” I said, “Hell, I don’t know we are just following those tanks.” So he said, “Have you got a trip ticket?” So I knew he had just got up there because you know damn well you don’t have any trip tickets in a combat mission. So I said, “We haven’t had a trip ticket since we left England.” So he said, “Don’t you have a map?” So I said, “What would we be doing with a map?” So I said, “You got a map?” He said, “No we are just following you boys. We are lost.” And I said, “Obviously if you’re lost I guess we are lost also.” A two-star general asking a truck driver where to go.”

“Cowboy” Morris travelled to Tahlequah, Oklahoma to receive an honor from his heritage, the Cherokee Nation. Travelling with him was  family including his grandson Congressman Markwayne Mullin. The award reads: The Cherokee Nation presents the Medal of Patriotism and the Warrior Award in Appreciation of Military Service to Kenneth Morris U.S. Army.
“Cowboy” Morris travelled to Tahlequah, Oklahoma to receive an honor from his heritage, the Cherokee Nation. Travelling with him was family including his grandson Congressman Markwayne Mullin. The award reads: The Cherokee Nation presents the Medal of Patriotism and the Warrior Award in Appreciation of Military Service to Kenneth Morris U.S. Army.

MASS. CHAPTER (22) ANNUAL LUNCHEON

VBOB Chapter 22 MA Flag Day (11)The annual Chapter 22 Luncheon was held this year on Flag Day at The Mill Restaurant in West Boylston, Massachusetts. The event, as usual, was spearheaded by Commander John McAuliffe. It was great seeing some old friends and new friends alike. One of our guest speakers was Denis Hambucken, who is writing a book on the Bulge. Over the past year, we lost many great veterans. The accounts of the men and women who served during these trying times is amazing.

VBOB Chapter 22 MA Flag Day (17)My Dad served in the 5th Armored Division, and I am proud to be an Associate Member of Chapter 22.

—Submitted by Elisha Mallory Grant Jr.

FLORIDA SE CHAPTER (62) SPRING LUNCHEON

The Spring luncheon meeting of the Battle of the Bulge Chapter #62 had 7 stars in attendance. The guest speaker was Joseph DeSalvo, Lt General and Military Commander of the United States Southern Command (3 stars), Pete Osmond, Lt General (3 stars) and our Commander Al Irzyk (Brig General (l star). The local press published a picture with a big headline “7 STARS AND ONE STRIPE.”

As a PFC, I never had the opportunity to speak with, or take a picture with, a general!

The event was well-publicized, and we had 98 veterans and family enjoy the camaraderie and program. As always, we introduced returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as our guests. They received a standing ovation. Commander Al Irzyk celebrated his 99th birthday and was presented with a cake. All sang the traditional Happy Birthday song. It was a most enjoyable afternoon.

VBOB National has 35+ active chapters and ours is the largest, with the most veteran members, 195 total.

—Submitted by George Fisher, Chapter 62 President

News from Chapter 33 Mississippi

Recently our Mississippi VBOB Treasurer, Ms. Mary Ellen Stanley, called to say she had received a second substantial check from a supporter of our scholarship project of 2015. The check was sent to honor and remember her late husband who was a combat veteran of the BOB. The Mississippi scholarship project for students related to Miss. veterans will now be continued in 2016, and we are at the moment preparing the necessary papers of announcement and applications, etc. Our Miss. Chapter is blessed to have older members who really care about the education of our young people and are happy to support it, even if it is a sacrifice. 

   Now we hope it is time for the National group of VBOB to have a scholarship project for young people of college age who are related to our wonderful B.O.B. Vets. We can truthfully say that it has energized our group and made us feel positive about what we can still contribute to society… even in our “ last quarter.” At the same time, we are educating students and their parents about this critical battle of WWII … lest we forget … We think the time is now.

—Submitted by Dr. James W. Hunt, Chapter 33 President, and Jane Hunt

CHAPTER 33 PRESIDENT SPEAKS AT MSUch33

On March 21, 2016, Hillel, a student organization at Mississippi State University, hosted Dr. Jim Hunt, VBOB Chapter 33 President, and veteran Joseph Johnson, to speak about their service during World War II. They spoke in the Union Dawg House to a packed house of roughly 95 people. Both Mr. Johnson and Dr. Hunt were given Cowbells with their Division patch painted on them, and posed for requested photos afterwards. Spectators who came to hear these two men were a mixed group of young and older patrons. This event couldn’t have been done without the help of Jacob Craig, who was newly elected as the next president of Hillel. Seated (l-r:): Joseph Johnson and Dr Jim Hunt. Standing (l-r): Andrew Shamaskin, Alexx Lux, Jacob Craig, Hillel President Joseph Metz, Scott Sincoff, Will Leonard, and Jake Grogan.

REFLECTIONS ON D-DAY

Col. Andrew Ordynovych, the Military Attache of Ukraine and J David Bailey, VBOB, at the D-Day event in Washington DC.
Col. Andrew Ordynovych, the Military Attache of Ukraine and J David Bailey, VBOB, at the D-Day event in Washington DC.

by J. David Bailey, Past VBOB President (2010-12)

Seventy-two years ago, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. On January 6, 2016 at the World War II Memorial in Washington DC, veterans in their 90s, and the families of fallen soldiers, commemorated the epochal D-Day, gathering to honor those who fought during the invasion.

The ceremony was traditional in nature—there was a public wreath-laying event to remember those who died. I was indeed honored, representing the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, to lay a wreath at the Atlantic Arch of the World War II Memorial. This was in memory of 9,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded during the invasion. I was accompanied by Col. Andrew Ordynovych, the Military Attache of Ukraine.

David O’Sullivan, The European Union Ambassador to the United Sates, was the main speaker, and also presented a wreath during the event. Josiah Bunting III, chairman of the Friends of the WWII Memorial, delivered special remarks, and the Military District of Washington provided support for the event.

The sound of trumpets playing “Taps” concluded the ceremony.

SPIRIT of ’45 WWII 75TH ANNIVERSARY ACTIVITIES

The countdown to Spirit of ’45 Day 2016 officially began with the installation of Seward Johnson’s monumental sculptures depicting the “Times Square Kiss” a few miles outside Detroit at the future site of the Michigan WWII Memorial. The 25 foot sculpture is identical to the ones in Sarasota, FL, San Diego, and Normandy, France symbolizing the national day to honor the legacy of the WWII generation, that was passed unanimously by the U.S. Congress in 2010.

This year, Spirit of ’45 events and activities will be helping to promote public awareness about the 75th anniversaries of important WWII events that will be taking place, beginning this year. 75th anniversaries include:

  • President Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech on January 6, 1941
  • The formation of the USO on February 4, 1941
  • The formation of the Tuskegee Airmen on March 22, 1941
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

Several Spirit of ’45 Day ‘signature’ events have already been announced by coalition partners: 

  • Walgreens is again showing the Spirit of  ’45 Day video on its jumbo screens in Times Square on the anniversary of the Kiss
  • The National Park Service is repeating its highly successful “Rosie the Riveter Rally” with the goal of setting a new Guinness World Record
  • The Medical Musical Group will perform two concerts in Washington, DC honoring the caregivers of WWII honoring the caregivers of WWII
  • Community events are planned across the country in virtually every state from Florida to California
  • Dignity Memorial and Bugles Across America are organizing Tribute wreath laying ceremonies at all VA national veterans ceremonies.

For more information, go to: www.spiritof45.org

BOB Historical Foundation Annual December Event in DC

THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE HISTORICAL FOUNDATION, INC.
Invites You to Join Your Friends for the
“EVENTS OF REMEMBRANCE AND COMMEMORATION”
OF THE 72nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
December 14, 15 and 16, 2016 Metropolitan Washington, DC

We have been invited by the new Luxembourg Ambassador, Sylvie Lucas, to a reception at the Luxembourg Embassy, on Wednesday, 14 December 2016, from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. We will hold our annual Battle of the Bulge Commemoration Banquet, at the DoubleTree Hilton Crystal City, on Thursday evening, 15 December 2016, between 6:00 and 10:00 PM. Our speaker for the Banquet will be announced in the November Bulge Bugle. Our bus trip this year on the 15th of December will be to the National Holocaust Museum on 15th Street SW in Washington followed by lunch on your own and shopping at Union Station and their Mall. The DoubleTree Hotel Crystal City by Hilton, 300 ArmyNavy Drive, in Arlington VA 22202 has been selected again for this event, with its panoramic view of our Nation’s Capital. This hotel, just off Route 1, in Crystal City, is a 7 minute drive from Reagan National Airport and a 2 City block walk to the Pentagon City Metro Station and the Pentagon Mall. It provides easy access to Washington DC and has recently completed major renovations to the entire hotel for great accommodations.

Click here to view and download pdf of full registration information.

The Remember Museum 39-45 in Belgium: Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz

Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz of the Remember Museum 39-45
Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz of the Remember Museum 39-45

Joe Landry (776 AAA AW BN) and Barbara Mooneyhan (Executive Vice-President, VBOB) need your help in raising money to bring these two deserving Belgium citizens to Washington, DC for the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge by the Historical Foundation!

Here is a little bit of background information about Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz. In 1940, When Marcel was 7 years old, aided by the hazards of war, his village Clermont-sur-Berwinne was cut into two parts … Germanic annexed by the German Reich and occupied Belgium. Marcel lived in a locality clearly of Germanic origins and he would spend all of his primary school years in German. The Liberation came on September 11, 1944. Then there was the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest (which Barbara’s Dad was involved) and this lasted all fall.  The losses were enormous and unbearable. The Allied Command decided to take a break as winter was coming.

Marcel’s family farm (he was 11 years old) was transformed into an immense bivouac with 110 soldiers from Company D of the 26th Regiment of the First Division, (the famous “Big Red One”).  This paradise for a kid deprived of everything for four years, would only last three weeks. These 3 weeks marked this child for life: the contrast between the occupation and the overwhelming abundance of the American GIs.

This dream ended on December 16, 1944 when Hitler decided to change the course of events and the Battle of the Bulge began. At the Schmetz farm, everyone packed his kit and departed for the north flank in a rush. The soldiers didn’t burden themselves with excess weight and the result was the Schmetz’s found themselves with a treasure trove of mixed objects. At the Schmetz farm, it was kept – first out of a reflex of economy but over time out of respect in memory of the people who had become dear to them.

Then Marcel met Mathilde in 1991. Together, they would become a dream team.  Mathilde would take advantage of Marcel’s retirement and his many talents to “put a little order in all that stuff”. In fact, she would help him to highlight the patient work of an entire life spent collecting. An immense abandoned stable on the farm would serve their purpose. It was emptied and after a multiple of improvements, was dedicated on June 12, 1994 for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day as The Remember Museum 39-45.

Since that time The Remember Museum 39-45 had hosted many visitors, most of all American veterans and the families of American soldiers who rest forever in the American cemeteries in Europe. These veterans, struck by the respect surrounding these objects, bring more and more personal souvenirs, certain that their memory will be faithfully kept.  In addition to this magnificent museum, Marcel and Mathilde have adopted two graves at the nearby Henri-Chappell Cemetery, one of which is PFC James G. Ellis of the 99th Division from South Carolina who was killed on December 17, 1944. They also host wounded veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They come to the Museum to stay for a few days from the hospitals in Germany.

Their organization relies strictly on donations and personal finances to maintain this remarkable museum. Please help us recognize their extraordinary efforts by having them as our guest in Washington on December 13 – 17, 2016. Please send questions or donations to Barbara Mooneyhan, Stages of Remembrance, 2440 Wash Lever Road, Chapin, SC or mooneyhanbj@aol.com. She can be reached at 803-318-1184. While these donations are not tax deductible, the IRS allows tax free gifts to any individual up to $14,000 per calendar year.

6th Armored Reunion

The next 6th Armored Reunion is scheduled for September 28-October 2, 2016 in Oklahoma City. Reservations can be made at the Hampton Inn in Bricktown, 300 E Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City, OK, 405) 232-3600. Just ask for the 6th Armored rate. Tours and events are still being coordinated, but more information will be available shortly. We hope to see you in OKC! Jerry and Donna Shiles
405-408-6692 or 6697

Annual 28th Infantry Division Conference and Reunion

28th

The Annual 28th Infantry Division Conference and Reunion is held each year at Fort Indiantown Gap. This is the major activity of the 28th Infantry Division Association’s mission. The Annual Reunion is held the Wednesday through Saturday after the Labor Day holiday. September 7-11, 2016. Tours of Fort Indiantown Gap, local excursions and a day trip to a place of historical interest are some of the activities available to reunion participants. The week concludes with a memorial service at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery on Saturday morning and a Veteran’s Banquet that evening. Please contact Gwenn Underwood at 717-944-6721 or go to: 28thinfantrydivisionassoc.org

VBOB_News

MAHLON SEBRING, 82nd Airborne

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVBOB Member Mahlon Sebring was in the 82nd Airborne Division, 319th Glider Field Artillery, A Battery. This is a photo he took of his Gun Section on a firing mission during the Battle of the Bulge. The 319th GFA used the small 75mm Pack Howitzers.The soldier at the far left is Donald Swanson from Minnesota, and on the far right is James Thousands from Ithaca, NY. (The middle two soldiers are unidentified.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASebring was technically considered a Field Wireman, but saw duty within the Gun Section, as well as assisting a Lieutenant at Forward Observer positions. Mr. Sebring turns 92 this July 9th. This will be the fourth year he and his son Greg have gone to Fort Bragg, NC for “All American Week”, home of the 82nd Airborne.
L to R: PVT Hornyak, SGT Covais, PVT Sebring, PVT Ferrante.

—Submitted by Greg Sebring, Mahlon Sebring’s son

Adopted graves in Belgium

Now I adopted two other soldiers and again I would like to know if there is any some family and information of these soldiers.

Private ARTHUR H. FRENCH – 36690011 – ILLINOIS

Private First Class STANLEY T. YASCZAK  – 33136597-  PENNSYLVANIA

Private MELVIN M. MILLER – 37692104- IOWA

These three soldiers are of the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

This year with Memorial Day, May 28, I will again visit the two Cemeteries here in Belgium, Neupré and Henri-Chapelle.

 

P1060277Respectfully,

Please contact me

Danny Sijmons

danny.sijmons-pots@telenet.be

 

VBOB_News

A Daughter Remembers her WWII Hero

VanArsdale1_smMy father, Richard Van Arsdale, Sr., LTC, joined the Army at age 18. He was in the 75th Infantry Division, 289th Regiment. Dad and the 75th Infantry Division were activated on April 15, 1943, deployed to England in November 1944, and France in December 1944 to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. The 75th Inf. spent 94 consecutive days in contact with the enemy. They went on to fight other battles.

Like many of the men who fought in combat, my father did not speak much about his experiences during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, Ardennes, Colmar Pocket and Ruhr Battles. He was awarded the British Star, Silver Star, Bronze Star w/ OLC, Purple Heart w/OLC and many other ribbons. We always wondered what lead to Dad receiving decoration of these medals, more than just knowing they were for “bravery in the field.” He never was one to boast, nor keen to hear others “blow their horn” either. Dad was very proud of his military service and all those who served. He would check in on his army buddies, and talk of the army reunions that both he and Mom loved to attend.

Sadly, my amazing Father passed away February 20, 2015. Dad’s home office was his domain and we did not disturb him there, much less ever inquire about what was in his desk. But it was a stroke of good fortune when I found many World War II mementos and letters in the bottom of his desk drawers. Citations received and written accounts of World War II battles struck me the most. Letters written to Mom and from his battlefield buddies told some of his stories of The Big One.

Corporal Van Arsdale was instructed to take a four-man daylight reconnaissance patrol into the town of LeBatty to ascertain the strength and disposition of enemy troops. Cpl. Van Arsdale and his patrol worked their way into the outer edges of the town, where they were ambushed by a large enemy patrol who demanded that they surrender. Defying them, this courageous corporal opened fire on the patrol, killing the two lead men. The enemy patrol then attempted to withdraw, but Cpl. Van Arsdale succeeded in taking one prisoner before he could escape. At this time, he signaled his getaway man to return with the information they had gained to the command post. Simultaneously, his two remaining men were killed by snipers. Then his prisoner attempted to escape, and Cpl. Van Arsdale killed him with one shot. Making his way back toward his company lines, he encountered an enemy machine gun nest. He attacked this strong point, killed the gunner, and then returned to his platoon. The following day he returned to the same area as a guide. “His knowledge of the positions occupied by the enemy were instrumental in the accomplishment of the objective,” read the Citation. The Silver Star, the third highest military decoration for valor and gallantry in action, was awarded Cpl. Van Arsdale for this mission.

In Germany, Dad was at the head of a series of patrols on dangerous missions. “Sgt. Van Arsdale repeated crossings of the Maas and Rhine Rivers and two patrols in one night across the Dortmund Ems Canal were accomplished with marked success. When an enemy machine gun threatened the safety of one patrol, Sgt. Van Arsdale distracted the enemy attention by throwing hand grenades at great risk to his own life enabling the patrol to complete its mission,” another Citation read. Dad wrote in a letter to Mom, “The Rhine is several hundred yards wide and the current is terrifically swift. We took off about nine o’clock that night, just when it was getting really dark. We had a little rubber boat that looked like a doughnut that barely fit the three of us. By the time we hit the other side we had drifted five hundred yards downstream. Three men isn’t a very big force to be going into the German lines, but we figured three of us could move faster and more quietly than a larger number of men. A much larger group of men tried to cross the night before in a bigger boat and the Krauts were waiting for them, and it didn’t end well. We had to be very quiet when we hit the shore, as it was covered with gravel. We had to take off our shoes and cross it in our stocking feet. It took about six hours to cover two hundred yards. We heard plenty that night—Heinies all over the place. We made it back to our side in the pitch black night and were almost shot by our own men.” The information they came back with allowed their platoon to successfully complete the mission. For his aggressive leadership and great courage, Sgt. Van Arsdale received the Bronze Star Medal w/ OLC.

Dad and his company were in Belgium advancing, when the Germans ambushed and attacked with sudden tree bursts. His buddy, Charlie Munder, was wounded so badly he couldn’t walk—shot in the left arm, his jugular vein severed, and with 3 fractures of his spinal column. Dad picked up Charlie and carried him back to get medical help. A letter from Charlie described the harrowing ordeal. He wrote, “Thanks for being so gentle with me, it saved my life!” Dad received two Purple Heart Medals for battle wounds received in action.

While he was a Staff Sargent, the company occupied a German area for six weeks and Dad was befriended by an old German couple. In La Fosse, Belgium, Dad and a few soldiers occupied the Julienne Family House. Dad later spoke about how kind they were and continued to correspond with the Juliennes, and visited them with Mom after the war.

motherOur mother, Vera, worked building spy aircraft in Defense Effort at TailorCraft while Dad was fighting overseas. She was one of the Rosies who learned to fly, then soloed and became a pilot. To see pictures of her with the crew and her Civil Aeronautics registration is amazing.

Dad returned from Europe on the SS Wheaton Victory in September 1945. He was aboard the Victory for 11 days. After serving in World War II, he served in the Korea Conflict, and in the National Guard where he was Commander of Heavy Mortar Company at Camp Cook, CA. Richard retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. “Dick” and Vera were married 70 years. Vera passed away on November 10, 2014 and Richard died only three months later. They were truly amazing parents—our heroes, who we remember, and miss, every day.

As his daughter, I wanted to share this information and say how proud I am of my Dad and Mom and all of you who have served. You are rightly named the Greatest Generation. I am grateful and give thanks to all men and women who served and continue serve our country. God Bless You.

by Laura M. Van Arsdale-Jacobson, Associate