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    Benelux Soldiers step back in time to Battle of the Bulge

    Battle of the Bulge

    Photo By Libby Weiler | A reenactor in period uniform walks along an unpaved road in Bastogne. U.S. Army...... read more read more



    Story by Libby Weiler 

    U.S. Army Garrison Benelux

    CHIÈVRES, Belgium — U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Soldiers spent Dec. 10 through 12, 2021 honoring the sacrifices made during the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium.

    During the winter of 1944 and on into the new year of 1945 while the world was at war, U.S. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were huddled up in foxholes in the Ardennes Forest.

    Temperatures that winter were some of the coldest on record. While their loved ones celebrated the holidays without them, they fought through the holidays in order to maintain a stronghold in Bastogne, Belgium. Little did they know their efforts are some of the most highly regarded in the war and became a major turning point in World War II.

    The catastrophic losses on the German side prevented Germany from advancing and they surrendered to Allied forces four months after the Battle of the Bulge.

    This year marks the 77th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium and Luxembourg from December 1944 to January 1945. The siege of Bastogne lasted from Dec. 20 through 27, 1944. Thousands of U.S. troops and civilians perished during the siege, and the commemorative ceremony every year honors their collective sacrifice as well as their collective strength.

    This year, commemorative events in Bastogne were held Saturday, December 11, 2021.

    Soldiers from U.S. Army Garrison Benelux started the weekend walking through the mud and snow in the Ardennes Forest in search of the foxholes the 101st Airborne Division used in 1944.

    “Standing in the woods and in the snow and understanding that they (the 101st Airborne Division) didn’t have all the equipment and material we have today to stay warm,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Woodard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Benelux. “To stand there and take it all in of what our brothers and sisters went through back then. They muscled through that. It was great to be able to see it and experience it firsthand.”

    Saturday morning, twenty USAG Benelux Soldiers braved the freezing temperatures to take part in the Bastogne Historic Walk. This 7-kilometer walk through the countryside of Bastogne gave Soldiers a firsthand look at what those that came before them experienced 77 years ago.

    “The walk was one of a kind,” said Woodard. “I think it takes you back to that era and what those Soldiers went through as they were foot marching.”

    “What really blew me away was the local people in uniform - the love, respect, and admiration they have for the American Soldier,” said USAG Benelux Command Sgt. Maj. Gary E. Yurgans.

    Due to COVID-19 preventive measures, organizers reduced the scale of events throughout the weekend. A wreath-laying ceremony took place in town at McAuliffe and Patton squares. USAG Benelux Color Guard presented the colors during both ceremonies.

    Spc. Mason A. Kendall, a military police Soldier at Army Prepositioned Stock (APS-2) Site Dülmen, said it was an honor to serve in the color guard during the commemorative ceremony.

    “It was an honor to serve not only the Benelux, but our brothers from many generations ago,” said Sgt. Christian Reim, military police Soldier at APS-2 Dülmen.

    McAuliffe Square is named after Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101st Airborne Division in 1944, which held off the German forces from Bastogne. Patton Square is named after Gen. George S. Patton commander of the Third U.S. Army, which counterattacked the German flank during the Battle of the Bulge.

    “Bastogne is really proud of what happened 77 years ago,” said Spc. Mason E. Wirth-Lefler, military police Soldier at APS-2 Dülmen. “That’s one word that I can say I’ve learned since being here - how proud the community is about everything that happened here.”

    While the commemorative events were scaled back this year, USAG Benelux Soldiers still managed to enjoy visiting the past to learn about what their brothers and sisters went through in the Battle of the Bulge.

    “This weekend was surreal and gave a unique type of weight to the Soldiers that fought here,” said Sgt. John T. Seely, military police Soldier at Chièvres Air Base. “Walking through the woods while the snow came down was truly incredible. Stepping back in time where the greatest generation walked, in conditions that evoked the past really opened my eyes to just how gritty and tough the defenders of Bastogne were.”



    Date Taken: 12.14.2021
    Date Posted: 12.14.2021 04:55
    Story ID: 411043
    Location: BASTOGNE, BE 

    Web Views: 83
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