Today is the 69th anniversary of the largest battle ever fought in the history of the US Army, the Battle of the Bulge.
After the successful landings earlier in the year in Normandy, the US Army and allied forces began their push to liberate the European continent from the Nazi stranglehold. All seemed headed in the right direction, except for the disappointment of Operation Market Garden. Going into December, it seemed the war was nearly at end and this may have drawn our forces into a sense of complacency.
All of a sudden the German Army launched a heavy armored attack into the Ardennes forest and caught the American Army off guard. The attack came at a time of some of the worst weather Europe had seen, and the cloud cover prevented necessary air support.
The Germans pushed through with the goal of splitting the British and American Allied line in half, capturing Antwerp, and then proceeding to encircle and destroy four Allied armies. They hoped to force the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty so Hitler could fully concentrate on the eastern front.
One of the most horrific stories of the battle was the SS massacre of Americans at Malmedy. But one of the most heroic stories was the “Battling Bastards of Bastogne.”
The men of the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded by the Germans but when Commanding General BG Anthony MacAuliffe was asked to surrender, he replied with the infamous one word response, “Nuts.”
Eventually American armored formations under General George Patton broke through, the weather lifted for air support, and the German Ardennes offensive was defeated. It was the last ditch effort of the Third Reich.
The battle earned its name because of the bulge created in the allied lines, and it was costly. The United States suffered more than 89,000 casualties, with 36,000 in the four-week winter battle.
If you get an opportunity to touch history and see a veteran of this pivotal battle, pay sincere homage and give thanks. This week sit down with your children and grandchildren and watch the movie “Battle of the Bulge” together. God knows they won’t learn this in school, and certainly not under Common Core. America has a grand and historic past, but I fear as we lose more and more World War II vets — like my own dad – we’ll lose our connection to the Greatest Generation, and their phenomenal endeavor to save the world and preserve liberty and freedom for all.
If you are so blessed as to have had a relative who fought in this memorable battle, please share the story so we never forget. Army Strong!