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7/21/2016 3:49 pm  #11

Re: Greatest Generation

Part Ten
Silent night.

It was Christmas eve in the little church turned hospital in Bastogne.  Smitty lay on a cot holding a moth eaten old blanket for warmth. It wasn’t working.  He looked around him at men suffering all sorts of wounds, some horrible. The tireless Belgian nurses moved from cot to cot, doing what they could. German artillery caused the entire building to shake. A light snow fell outside. The situation was grim.  Since nobody could be evacuated, the wounded piled up. Exhausted surgeons  watched helplessly as  men died.  Men, who with proper facilities, might have lived. 

A sergeant from 1st squad brought some rations to the hospital and wanted to check on a young soldier who had been wounded by shellfire the day before. The private was from Lock Haven, a small river town near his home. He learned that the young man had died a few hours earlier. The sergeant slumped in a chair. The other patients were desperate for information. But the sergeant didn’t have much to tell them that they didn’t already know. It was miserably cold, and the Germans were still trying their best to kill them.

Around midnight the Belgian nurses stepped into the street, joined some other townspeople, and began singing Christmas carols in German. Soldiers gathered around them. Some of the men’s thoughts drifted off towards home, and better times. They were grateful that their families were safe.  As the nurses sang “Stille Nacht” the sergeant wept openly. No one thought any less of him for it.

In the early hours of Christmas morning, the sky cleared enough for German planes to bomb Bastogne. They didn’t do enough damage to change the military balance. But they did manage to kill a score of civilians. One of the young Belgian nurses, Renee Lemaire, was among the dead. Paratroopers carried her body home to her parents.

The men wondered, “where was Patton?”

Last edited by Goose (7/21/2016 3:55 pm)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

7/22/2016 5:33 am  #12

Re: Greatest Generation

Part Ten
Christmas 1944

On Christmas Day the Germans launched desperate, even fanatical attacks upon Bastogne. Forces were being starved of gasoline and ammunition because of the stubborn American resistance. Hitler had also become obsessed with Bastogne.  Hitler had never respected the American soldier. He and his cronies often had disparaged them as the “Italians” of the allied side. Now, these new world mongrels were taking everything that the master race could dish out. It was intolerable. Threats of death were made to motivate German officers. The battle raged all day.

At one point in the line the Germans came within about a mile and a half of Bastogne. It was a close run thing.  But, the Americans held.

Then next morning the Germans launched a last desperate effort, but to no avail. The balance of battle had turned. The German offensive was played out.

The day after Christmas dawned under clear skies. American aircraft, finally able to fly in large numbers, swarmed  the battlefield like angry hornets attacking any German vehicle or soldier in sight.  They wreaked havoc and enacted a terrible vengeance. And Patton’s forces, true to their word, arrived within a few miles of the south of Bastogne and added their firepower.

Lieutenant Boggess was in the leading tank of a column of Shermans. He scattered a group of Germans with a round from his 75 mm gun. Beyond them he saw American troops in a covered position. Boggess drove his tank up to that foxhole and stopped. The hatch popped open and he climbed out to see four bearded, tired, filthy, yet triumphant soldiers. One with an unlit cigar in his mouth stood up. With mock nonchalance he called out, “You lost, Mac?”

Boggess jumped down from the Tank and extended his hand. “Boggess,4th Armed”.
The Paratrooper took his hand and replied, “Webster, one oh one”
So, at 4:50 PM on December 26th the siege of Bastogne was lifted.

Many long bitter days of combat were to follow. In fact, it took nearly another month to completely eliminate the bulge. But Hitler’s gamble had failed. His grand plan lay broken in the snow before the American line.
After that the German Collapse finally came. In the spring, with the Russians closing in on him in Berlin, Hitler took his own life. His successor offered unconditional surrender of all German forces.

About 600,000 Americans were to fight in the battle, and to suffer some 81,000 casualties. The Germans sent half a million men into the bulge. They suffered at least 100,000 killed, wound, and captured.

The victory in the Ardennes belonged to the American soldier. Outnumbered in the early days, cold, confused and short on supplies, the soldier fought on, sometimes in improvised units. He provided time for his commanders to recover from their intelligence failure and bring reinforcements to bear.

Uncle Sam provided Smitty with a wooden leg. He also provided the GI Bill, which Smitty used to attend the Pennsylvania State University. Smitty became an accountant and opened an office, and then a small firm in Lititz. He raised a family there.

Dick Winters thanked God for seeing him through the ordeal. He also promised that if some way he could get home again, he would find a nice quiet town and spend the rest of his life in peace. He too returned to Pennsylvania after the war. 

Winters set up his own company selling chocolate byproducts from Hershey foods to producers of animal feed. He was a regular guest lecturer at the United States Military Academy until his retirement in 1997. Winters' experiences with Easy Company were popularized by Stephen Ambrose in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers.

Joachim Peiper survived the war as well. He was arrested after the war and tried for the war crimes that his troops had committed against American soldiers as well as French and Belgian civilians. Peiper was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging in 1948. But, by that time the cold war had begun and America had come to look more kindly on the erstwhile enemy. His sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Peiper was released after 12 years because of aggressive lobbying by the civilian government in Bonn. Peiper lived quietly for years in a little village on the present German-French border. Some years later on July 14th – Bastille Day – Peiper was murdered by unknown assailants. 

No one was ever charged with the crime.

Last edited by Goose (7/22/2016 6:43 am)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

7/23/2016 5:01 am  #13

Re: Greatest Generation

Part Eleven
September 1, 2006
Milton S Hershey Medical Center

Smitty was brought to Operating Room #1, the “Heart Room”. It was cold in the room. The nurses got Smitty a blanket. Dr. Russo decided  not to mention that there was more cold to come.

An ECG monitor and blood pressure cuff were placed. Dr. Russo worked quickly, and methodically. First he induced anesthesia with a narcotic, Fentanyl, and Propofol, being careful to monitor Smitty for lowering blood pressure. Then the doctor inserted a breathing tube into Smitty’s throat and attached him to a respirator. The machine would breathe for Smitty for the surgery and perhaps a day afterward. 

Dr. Russo then placed a small catheter into the radial artery at Smitty’s wrist. This would allow the doctor to have an instantaneous, and continuous reading of Smitty’s blood pressure, much more accurate than with the cuff.. It would also allow the sampling of blood at any time to measure hemoglobin, electrolytes, and clotting factors.

Next Dr. Russo placed a large line into the jugular vein in Smitty’s neck. This would allow the team to thread a small catheter all the way to Smitty’s heart, and to monitor how well the heart was performing.

With all of that done, the surgeon could finally begin. He expertly made an incision on Smitty’s chest and spread the sternum apart, exposing the heart. Now the hard part began. Opening a beating heart to replace a valve would cause the patient to bleed to death in seconds.  So a large cannula is placed on the venous side of the heart. It collects blood that a machine removes poisonous carbon dioxide from, and adds oxygen to. The blood is then  pumped out to the body thru a cannula placed in the aorta, the body’s largest artery. The machine thus takes the place of both the heart and lungs. It was unimaginatively known as the "Bypass machine".

Under tis arrangement the heart is “Dry”, isolated from the blood  being pumped by the bypass machine. This makes it possible for the surgeon to do his work. But, the heart muscle would die from lack of oxygen if it kept beating. So, the surgeon induces cardiac arrest. Hypothermic cardiac arrest. The heart is packed in a slurry of iced saline solution and the body rapidly cooled to rest the great muscle. As they began cooling Smitty’s body down, Dr Russo imagined him laying in that fox hole in the snow. “I’m sorry,” he muttered.

When the body was sufficiently cooled, Smitty’s heart became perfectly still.  The EKG showed a perfectly straight line.  “Start the clock,” the surgeon said. And he went to work. The cooling and bypass preserved life. But only for so long. The team needed to work quickly. First he opened the heart to expose, then remove the old malfunctioning valve.

“No turning back now”, Russo thought.  Then the painstaking process of sewing the new valve in took place. Russo nervously watched the clock.

Replacing the valve was difficult enough. Doing the bypass of the two coronary arteries was even worse. A piece of vein, about as big as an earth worm was removed from Smitty’s remaining leg. Next the surgeon “bypassed”, bad sections of coronary artery by sewing one end of a piece of vein to the artery just before the obstruction, and sewing the other end to the artery on the other side of the obstruction. The arteries with their thick muscular walls were even smaller than the vein. Russo reckoned them the size of linguine.  Russo generally considered cardiac surgeons to be pretentious pains in the ass, but he had to grudgingly admire their skills.

As the last graft was stitched into place the bypass technician began the process of rewarming Smitty’s blood.  The icy mix was suctioned out from around the heart, and replaced with warm saline. The cross clamps were removed. The moment of truth had arrived. Smitty’s heart began to beat again. Weakly.

“Nothing to panic about”, Russo told himself. He would  start a dopamine drip to increase the heart’s contractility and Smitty’s blood pressure.  He looked at his monitors. The blood pressure was 50. Simply not enough to support life. The doctor increased the drip to no avail. “let’s add some Epi”, Russo said.  “Epi” or epinephrine would increase both the heart rate and blood pressure. It worked. The blood pressure increased to 65, 78, 99. “Good”, Thought the doctor. Then his eyes caught something on the ECG. There was ST elevation, the unmistakable sign of myocardial infarction. In other words dying heart muscle. “Damn”. Soon the blood pressure began to fall. In a few moments, it was back in the 50s.

The team put Smitty back of cardiac bypass. They inspected the grafts. They were fine. A portable ultrasound machine showed that the new valve was in ideal position. They rested the heart for a while and then attempted to separate from bypass once again. Again, Smitty’s heart could not handle the load, The pressures within the heart showed that it simply was not pumping blood adequately. Again the drips failed to help.

“We will have to try Levophed”, said Russo, with resignation in his voice.
“Yea, I don’t see any other options”, replied the surgeon.
Russo hated the drug levophed. Yes, it was a powerful stimulant for the heart.  But, all too often the drug put such a strain on the heart that it could precipitate further trouble. Russo likened it to whipping a dying horse. Yes, you could go a few more yards, but then what?

The levophed increased the blood pressure, but the ECG remained abnormal. The surgeon looked on helplessly. Soon the heart rate became irregular. The surgeon placed small electrodes on the heart and attached them to a temporary pacemaker. The machine caused the heart to beat and an exact rate of 60 times per minute. The blood pressure was marginal, despite the maximum doses of the drips.

Then Smitty’s heart went into ventricular fibrillation. Instead of a coordinated beat, the heart muscle just quivered, like a bag of worms. Of course, there was no blood pressure.  “Fuck!”. Russo administered other drugs. The surgeon used small paddles to deliver an electric shock directly to the heart. Three times he did this. The heart started to beat once again.  It didn’t last. Again the heart fibrillated. Again the electric shocks were administered. Over and over again. Eventually the fibrillation became fine, and then the heart failed to move at all. Asystole.

The surgeon removed the paddles with a sigh. “Thank you, everyone”.
“Wait. Maybe we could,,,,,” Russo started.
“THANK YOU, everyone” Repeated the surgeon.

The man was right. Smitty was gone. There were no more things to try.
Russo was a quiet man, not given to outbursts, But, he just wanted to throw something. But, that wouldn’t accomplish anything. Neither would yelling, or swearing. So, in silence the surgeon and his assistant hurriedly closed the wound, while Russo discontinued his drips, and removed the IVs.

As they took done the surgical drapes, the surgeon turned for the door, and said, “I'll go talk to his daughter”.
Smitty lay on the table nude. Technicians would transport his body to the morgue.

Russo started for the door, and his eye caught the cabinet in which the nurses store blankets. He grabbed a huge handful of blankets and  covered Smitty’s body with several of them. Carefully he tucked the blankets around Smitty, and wrapped his legs in them. Russo looked up and saw two nurses staring at the doctor, their mouths agape in amazement.

“He doesn’t like to be cold”, Doctor Russo said, and he left the operating room.

At the end of each day Russo is careful to stop being a doctor, and to be a father.
Tonight, like many other fall evenings, that means watching his daughter play youth league soccer. Russo stood at the sidelines watching the game, but he had trouble focusing. As the other parents chatted about their day, and cheered their kids on, Russo at first felt irritation. How can things be so, well, normal when this man has just passed? Life, it seemed grinds on mercilessly. But, soon his feelings changed. It was just Smitty’s time. And isn’t this what those men fought for? Here were families enjoying a fine evening, living their lives in peace. Freedom from fear.

Smitty would have been delighted to see this. Russo felt a profound feeling of gratitude for those men who had done so much. Everything that he enjoyed,  even took for granted, came at a price. And one generation had risen in civilization's darkest hour to pay that price. Some 16 million Americans had answered that call. The Greatest Generation as the writer Tom Brokaw stated it. Greatest Generation. Yes those words were more than a cliche' for him now.

Last edited by Goose (7/23/2016 9:36 pm)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

7/23/2016 5:14 am  #14

Re: Greatest Generation

Part Twelve
Bergstrasse Cemetery, Ephrata, PA
Memorial Day 2016

Just off of route 322 in Ephrata, PA stands the Bergstrasse Lutheran Church.
It has a long history, being founded in 1752, before the birth of the United States. Behind the church is a large, well maintained cemetery. The headstones are in neat rows, with wide paths between them. The oldest graves are closest to the church, with the newer ones arranged beyond them in a rough triangular shape over a gently rolling lot. A few families have their own little plots where several generations lay together.

Smitty rests here, along with many of his comrades in arms from many wars, as evidenced by the small American Flags decorating so many graves. The sight of all these colorful little flags fluttering in the breeze is beautiful and sad. It’s strangely quiet, despite the nearby roads. Smitty’s little plot gets full sun. He would have liked that. Except for the good folks bringing the flags, Smitty gets few visitors. He doesn't mind. Nearly everyone that he knew has joined him on the other side at this point.

Dick Winters, of the 101st joined Smitty here in 2011, dying at the age of 92. He was the longest surviving member of Easy Company. Dick rests in the family plot just a stone’s throw away.

Shortly before he passed away, Franklin and Marshall College conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters upon Winters
In his remarks he said:

“War brings out the worst and the best in people. Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men. War is romantic only to those who are far away from the sounds and turmoil of battle. For those of us who served in Easy Company, and for those who served their country in other theaters, we came back as better men and women as a result of being in combat, and most would do it again if called upon. But each of us hoped that if we had learned anything from the experience it is that war is unreal, and we earnestly hoped that it would never happen again.” 

For Smitty and Dick there is peace.

Smitty and Dick Winters are gone. But the 28th Division is still out there. The 101st is as well. Instead of fir forests, today they are fighting in a harsh desert landscape. Both Divisions have had tours of Duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both have lost men, and had others return with terrible wounds.

It would be nice to think that their's will be the last generation to suffer so. But, that isn't the way the world is. Smitty's father and uncles had fought in The War to End All Wars. Smitty and Dick winters fought in the one after that. Then of course there were Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Desert storm, Iraqi freedom,,,,,
Now a new enemy, ISIS has emerged on the scene. And, most certainly, our leaders will turn to the sword to deal with them. Older men will again send young men and women into harm's way.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Thank you

Last edited by Goose (7/23/2016 5:33 am)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

7/30/2016 3:36 pm  #15

Re: Greatest Generation


 16,112,566  Americans served as members of the United States Armed Forces during World War II.
Prior to the war, the United States armed forces were about the size of Poland's. So, the majority of those 16 million were not career soldiers. They were farmers, teachers, clerks, miners, students, etc, who simply answered the country's call. After the war they returned to civilian life.

419,400 gave their lives, and 670,846 were wounded.

Time is doing what the Nazis and Japanese could not do. Cancer, heart disease, Parkinsons. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 697,806 American veterans from the war are still alive as of 2016.

Before long, they will all be gone. During the 70th Anniversary Ceremony memorializing the attack on Pearl Harbor, the President of the Pearl Harbor Survivors  Association, announced that due to the ages and health of the membership the executive board had decided to terminate the association as of December 31, 2011.

What can we do? On the face of it, not much. Cancer took my Grandfather, Myron Simcox in 1980. I cannot believe how the years have gone by. He served in the Pacific as an aircraft mechanic. Just last year my Uncle, Vincent Fasano died. He fought in the Philippines and was decorated for it. You have stories too. I vaguely recall that Jimmybear's father fought in the battle of the Bulge, although I'm embarrassed to not remember it well. I think he was with the 10th Armored.

All we can do is remember them, and to keep their stories alive. Gather you children, or grandchildren around you. They are hungry for heroes. Athletes, celebrities. Do them the favor of giving them real heroes. Gather them around and tell them about the Bulge. Or Tarawa, Anzio, Okinawa,,,,,
Or, if you are a pacifist, Tell them about the Berlin Airlift, the Marshall Plan,,,, Selma.

Thank you for reading my story. 

Last edited by Goose (7/30/2016 3:51 pm)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

7/31/2016 9:03 pm  #16

Re: Greatest Generation


May their Memory be Eternal!

+Augustine of Hippo wrote "what a precious gift is memory".   Thank you for this manificent series which preserves the memory of this truly greatest generation, which includes my Dad who was in the US Navy, Pacific theater..   Your writing deserves a much broader audience, so that this precious memory may be widely shared.

Life is an Orthros.

12/09/2016 10:58 am  #17

Re: Greatest Generation

Third Army G2 Predicts Battle of the Bulge, 9 December 1944

By December of 1944, it appeared that Hitler had been all but defeated. In fact, from the Allied perspective, Germany's continuation of the war at that point made no sense at all. The Third Army had crossed into Germany and had its sights on Frankfurt. An Allied offensive was planned for late December, right before Christmas. Allied commanders and their intelligence staffs were optimistic, if not downright confident, that the end of World War II was within reach.

But the Third Army G2, Colonel (later Brigadier General) Oscar Koch, was deeply concerned. Despite the advances of three Allied army groups along the Siegfried Line, there was a large force of German strategic and tactical troops being held in reserve in the north. These troops included armor and mechanized infantry units, paratroopers, and brutal Schutzstaffel, or SS troops. Why were they not being called on to at least slow down the Allied advance? What was the purpose of holding them in reserves? The evidence pointed to a massive German build-up in preparation for a large scale attack.

Koch stepped up the night photo reconnaissance missions, specifically requesting railroad marshalling yards and important highway intersections deep behind enemy lines as targets of interest. Photo interpreters could study the images, trace the progress of several hundred trains a day, and estimate the size of units being transferred. The air reconnaissance teams reported unprecedented rail activity on several separate days in November. An enemy prisoner of war provided more disturbing evidence.

Koch knew that the purpose of intelligence was to assist the commander in accomplishing his mission and to protect the command from surprise. He also knew that General Patton was planning to have the Third Army move east in a few days. An attack by German forces to the west, just north of the Moselle, would be out of his commander's zone of advance, but it would pose a serious threat to the Third Army's flank. General Patton had all of these details of enemy capability estimates that the G2 shop had been collecting and documenting in official reports for weeks. What was different at a December 9, 1944 special briefing was the composite analysis of what those details might mean.

Koch laid out the possibility of an enemy counteroffensive, with all of the known enemy combat strength. He told Patton that in such a scenario, the enemy was favored, and why.

History would prove Koch correct. One week after his correct interpretation of the intelligence, the Germans launched the Ardennes Offensive, later known as the Battle of the Bulge. Patton, who had had a week to think about how to react to just such a scenario, was able to turn his army and hit the German southern flank hard, effectively thwarting the German's assault.

Brigadier Oscar Koch died in 1970.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

4/18/2017 7:21 pm  #18

Re: Greatest Generation

If I might make a suggestion.

You're telling a story, which is exactly what you indended to do; however, I feel the story would draw the reader in if more of the story was told by dialog.

Also, adding some banter, shop talk, etc...between the soldiers and the officers (both sides) will really ground the story.

Thank you for posting this, I enjoyed the read  


If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again


4/18/2017 7:45 pm  #19

Re: Greatest Generation

Thank you, CT. I appreciate your suggestions.
I had kinda lost track of my little story, and was overwhelmed to see that it had garnered 530 views.
I consider that an honor to the men who fought there.

Last edited by Goose (4/18/2017 7:53 pm)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

4/18/2017 8:10 pm  #20

Re: Greatest Generation

The presentation as a serial was effective.  Always left wanting more but not left hanging.  Very good style.

If you make yourself miserable trying to make others happy that means everyone is miserable.

-Me again


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