Salute to the Greatest Generation

In early march of 2014 Billy sent out the following note and link, which generated a great deal of response. Andy's story below was especially well received with demands that it be posted ... so here it is!

Original Post

Here's a great interview from a member of that 101st Airborne in France during the Battle of the Bulge. Great War Story, but you have to watch until the end to get the best part. This is the human side of a story that will make you smile. The story is told by a hero of the "Greatest Generation" that we all are indebted to. These guys made sacrifices that the current generation cannot imagine. It will be a sad day when they are all gone.

WW II Veteran Stories - Vince Speranza

Andy's Story

I had an interesting Battle of the Bulge experience some 20 plus years ago.

I was travelling on business in the city of Liege in Belgium and was working with an older gent calling on some GE affiliate there. He was a long time GE rep that I had met in Evendale, Ohio, earlier.

After working hours, he asked me what I had planned to do that evening. I knew that he was travelling with his wife as well.

I told him that I had thought that I would offer to buy him and his wife dinner if they could join me.

He thanked me, but said he had a different evening planned and wondered if I would be interested in joining him. He said he had served in the army nearby during WW II and wanted to take a drive out into the countryside as he had never been back to the area since.

Obviously I was excited about the prospect of some living history lesson here, and it wasn't long before I was driving him through the Ardennes Forest and he was telling me the significance of the battle of the bulge, what troops were where, etc. ...

As we got deeper and deeper into the hills and some pretty thick forest, he grew more quiet, just looking around. He remembered to me how cold it was when he was there.

After a while, he told me that this area looked very familiar to him, and asked me to pull over alongside the road, a two lane highway through this land. He got out and just looked around nodding his head and saying that yes, it was very familiar, and he was sure that this was near to where he was as a young soldier. He put his head down and started sobbing greatly for what seemed several minutes without saying anything. We both stood there in the silence of the forest feeling a tremendous grief. After a while, he looked up and apologized for "losing it", but "I lost a lot friends near here".

We continued on into the town of Spa, where they had a casino. I had a good night.

The next night, we were at dinner, this time with his wife, and he was relaying to her his experience the night before in the Ardennes. He said to her, "honey, you know I've loved you through almost 50 years of marriage, and you know I don't mean to offend you by this, but I've never felt a stronger bond in my life than the love I had for my brothers in those days through that fighting."

She smiled and said, "I know, dear."