|My father (r) with some of the locals|
Big Joe: There's no booze, there's no broads, there's no action!
Captain Maitland: That's another thing - don't fool around with the women. Their husbands carry guns. And don't forget, the penalty for looting is death.
Big Joe: Loot what? There's nothing here to loot!
Time and again, you've seen me post about my dad, Paul, who fought in World War II. I only remember one story, if you could even call it that. The German's attacked their sleeping billets on New Year's Even. New Year's Eve, always reminds of this photo and how much I didn't know about my father. I do remember that he always reserved New Year's night to himself. While I spoke to my Uncle George when I was about 12, I vaguely remember anything he actually told me. No, I didn't write it down. He was also in my father's unit, the 310th Signal Corps Battalion, Company
A. This year I was able to receive some more information about my father's service and the medals he had received. I knew he had fought in the Battle of the Bulge, but nothing else. He had received medals for combat in Northern France and Germany. Scouring the internet, I have found few that knew anyone in the 310. I have pictures galore and even the Company yearbook, but your mind starts to think about what else is out there.
I have photos of them playing cards, posing, and eating. I have wondered if there are more photos out there and have taken to twitter, pinterest, and facebook looking, I have scoured the interwebs and come up, usually with the same thing.
Until one day...
Someone had posted about a lost camera found in Belgium, left from a World War II soldier. On it, photos from the Battle of the Bulge! I looked immediately for this post and found soon, it was a hoax and someone just doctored up some photos already in WWII archives. However, one photo caught my eye. It couldn't be? It looked like my father.
After some fact finding, buying a book, and contacting the National Archives, this is what I found: Photo 197920 - Infantrymen 'sweat out' heavy enemy shelling as they wait in cellar of building in Duren, Germany, 12/15/44.
I know my father. That, I swear is my father, second from the bottom, holding a rifle sitting on the steps in a cellar, the day before the official Battle of the Bulge began. Now, you if you go back up to the photo of the man killed on New Year's Eve, I do believe that is the same man.
If this truly is a photo of my father, sitting in a cellar in one of the worst battles the European front fought, it makes me even more proud than I was before. I have been given a gift of one more moment in my father's life, even though it might just be one of the most terrifying of his. He was single, a coal miner and a forestry worker from Bakerton, Pa. His two other brothers landed in Normandy on D+3 and D+10, while his other brother was somewhere else in this house I assume, since they were in the same unit.
From a mere chance of looking at an article that turned out to be sadly a hoax, I was given a gift that I could never have paid for.