World War II ‘Battle of the Bulge’ began this date: Dec. 16, 1944 — with personal story of a veteran who was there. Verne Strickland’s article starts below this brief historical introduction.
World War II ‘Battle of the Bulge’ began this date: Dec. 16, 1944
On this day, the Germans launch the last major offensive of the war, Operation Mist, also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge, an attempt to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge, so-called because the Germans created a “bulge” around the area of the Ardennes forest in pushing through the American defensive line, was the largest fought on the Western front.
The Germans threw 250,000 soldiers into the initial assault, 14 German infantry divisions guarded by five panzer divisions-against a mere 80,000 Americans. Their assault came in early morning at the weakest part of the Allied line, an 80-mile poorly protected stretch of hilly, woody forest (the Allies simply believed the Ardennes too difficult to traverse, and therefore an unlikely location for a German offensive). Between the vulnerability of the thin, isolated American units and the thick fog that prevented Allied air cover from discovering German movement, the Germans were able to push the Americans into retreat.
Massive loss of American and civilian life
The battle raged for three weeks, resulting in a massive loss of American and civilian life. Nazi atrocities abounded, including the murder of 72 American soldiers by SS soldiers in the Ardennes town of Malmedy. Historian Stephen Ambrose estimated that by war’s end, “Of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded.” The United States also suffered its second-largest surrender of troops of the war: More than 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry Division capitulated at one time at Schnee Eifel. The devastating ferocity of the conflict also made desertion an issue for the American troops; General Eisenhower was forced to make an example of Private Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War. The war would not end until better weather enabled American aircraft to bomb and strafe German positions. The date was 25 January 1945.
Patriotic 85-year-old World War II veteran talks about ‘The Greatest Generation’: Robert T. Bradacich fought in Battle of the Bulge
Bob was attending the grand opening of an expanded headquarters space for Pantano for Congress — GOP nominee for North Carolina’s Seventh District of the U.S. Congress.
“I don’t have much time left,” said 85-year-old Robert T. (Bob) Bradicich.
It was a candid “open microphone” comment before I went into an interview with this World War II veteran at a campaign event for Ilario Pantano. I knew what Bob meant, and it broke my heart.
Ilario had introduced us moments before, saying, “Bob’s an amazing guy and a great friend. He’s been there.”
“There” was Bob’s war. Normandy shortly after the D-Day landings. The liberation of Paris. Fighting through Belgium and Luxembourg. The Seigfried Line. The Battle of the Bulge.. The German blitzkrieg.
Many times, on many a chaotic battlefield, Bob – in those earlier times, in his youth — had thought the same words that slipped out just before our interview: “I don’t have much time left.” That was in war. Now, in 2010, it is not war, but age that is stalking him.
A total of 16,112,566 individuals were members of the United States armed forces during World War II. There were 291,557 battle deaths, 113,842 other deaths in service (non-theater), and 671,846 non-mortal woundings. As of September 30, 2009, there were approximately 2,272,000 American veterans still living.
The ranks of these survivors are thinning at an increasing rate. Approximately 850 American World War II veterans die every day. The median age for a World War II veteran in February 2009 was 86 years.
So I sat with this wonderful unassuming American hero – a plain-spoken New Yorker now living in Wilmington – a dues-paying member of the Greatest Generation, aptly named by Tom Brokaw.
As an active and enthusiastic volunteer for Ilario Pantano, Bob speaks to groups about the war. He wants them to know what it was like. Not to shame them, but to remind them of the price of freedom.
“I talk about the sailors at sea, whose ship goes down, and lay in unmarked graves under the ocean, and the airmen shot down, and for me, as an infantryman. I told them that when I dig a foxhole, I don’t know if that’s going to be my grave or not. I may have dug a hundred foxholes in France, and had the same thought every time.”
Bob’s humility is genuine and endearing.
“After I got through with my talk, the people applauded. That surprised me. But it was great to know they understood. That meant a lot to me.”
Why is this remarkable American patriot at a campaign program for a Republican candidate approximately fifty years younger than he is?
“I’m here because I believe in what Ilario Pantano stands for. The United States is losing a lot of our freedoms, and I want Ilario to go to the U.S. Congress and get America back to its roots – a country of the people, by the people, and for the people – so that we can live in peace again. And may that happen. Oh, God, I hope it does.”
Bob wrote a book. It’s a good one. Honest, matter-of-fact, full of his personal stories of battles — horror, loss, victories, courage, and his buddies in the 28th Infantry Division. Some survived. Many didn’t.
“I’m not a hero,” Bob reminded. “The heroes are the ones who didn’t return. They paid dearly. I just gave them time. Yes, I was fighting over there. But they gave everything. I came back.”
This is a statement made by many survivors of combat. There is almost a hint of guilt that they did not die too. Maybe those who returned from any and every war will never be totally relieved of this feeling while on this earth. It’s futile to tell them otherwise – that they fought valiantly, and owe nothing more. But they do know and respond graciously to true expressions of appreciation.
We owe them this.
“World War II, As I Lived It”, by Robert T. Bradicich, is the story of Mr. Bradicich’s experiences in World War II, in Europe, 1943 – 1945, while serving as a rifleman with the 28th Division, 110th Regimental Combat Team, Company ‘E’ ASN 32885196. It is a compelling personal story, and is illustrated with both color and black-and-white photographs. Copyright @ 2000 by Robert Bradicich. For information about copies, contact the author at [email protected].
The Conundrum of America Foreign Policy, Then and Now
By Tason Vance
Over the short period of time I have been alive, I have watched the America I grew up in turned upside down. Growing up as an only child of a single mother who didn’t make a lot, I used to primarily side with the Democratic Party. And it is an easy premise to be seduced by for younger folks. How many teenagers then and now thought/ think weed should be legalized in some form or fashion? How many teenagers know/ knew a 16 year old who was impregnated by means of rape and thought it should be their choice for abortion? How many teenagers grew up or are growing up with the ever-present threat of nuclear war and would do almost anything to stop it, even if it meant a one world court to oversee the world?
This is how we were raised. Keep in mind I was a stupid teenager. At the time I always imagined there was room for common ground in the middle. Yes I thought that wealth equality was getting out of hand, and I still do. That doesn’t mean I thought we should exclusively tax the rich so the poor get free stuff. In my mind it meant things like illegal immigrants in the work place and affirmative action should be banned so wages for skilled workers would return to the level they should be and the burger flipper jobs could return nearly exclusively to high school kids that needed a job to make a few bucks to go on dates and pay for gas to go on said dates. The Democrat Party was never interested in that though. They were interested in government redistribution. That said, one of the biggest head-scratchers I have personally come across the last few months is my position and that of many Americans in our foreign policy.
It wasn’t long ago I believed the best thing America could do was take a step back from the International Community. In my mind, if done the right way, we could have been successful in doing so. A very large group of people who are blasting Obama for his lack of action in the Middle East used to say the exact same thing even if they won’t admit it now. Even as a teenager I questioned the foreign aid we sent to Israel and why we don’t spend it helping people in America that have lost everything to a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc. As a teenager I questioned why we sent troops all over the world to places the people hate us when we could use all that money and resources to build an impenetrable national defense. And even as a Veteran that served in the Middle East, I wondered why we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
As a dumb teenager I knew that our attackers were from these countries and that the most likely hiding place for Osama was Pakistan, where he was found 10 years later. And with recent revelations by our intelligence department about his continued involvement in running terrorist operations around the world up until his death, it makes me further say what the hell. And furthermore I have always questioned America’s foreign business practices. It amazes me to this day why our government gives bonuses to businesses that outsource jobs away from Americans they are supposed to serve. This is the kind of crap that makes even the most uninformed conservative scratch their heads.
So what does all of this have to do with us now you ask? A lot. Now we have a “president,” who if nothing else, has moved us away from the International Community in terms of war power, but it’s his actions dealing with the economic side of the International Community that is most alarming; especially when combines with our reduced military power.
First let me touch on the military aspect. Obama would like us to believe, and has stated that we are further from war than we have been in recent history when it is the direct opposite. Yes he has reduced troop levels on foreign soil but at what cost? Every military leader and experts on Middle Eastern policy warned him not to pull out all troops in the manner he did. What did he do? Ignore them. Now I give you ISIS. What is ISIS? Sunni rebels being led primarily by Sunni Generals and officers that used to serve Saddam Hussein.
Then you get the opposite side of the terror coin. Iranian Hezbollah forces fighting Sunni ISIS forces with millions of Christians and overall innocent Muslims in the crossfire. Now I for one as well as many of you have stated there are no innocent Muslims because they won’t stand and fight for the middle. And I have come to realize that is simply not the truth. How many Americans do you know who are watching the treason of our own government and refuse to pull the finger out of their ass to lift it in response? We all know many. Why is that? FEAR. Fear is the hardest human emotion to defeat.
But back to Iran. Our “president” has seemingly sided entirely with Iran to take over the power vacuum we left in the Middle East. Even though we have nations like Egypt, Israel, Jordan, UAE, and Kuwait that are ready to fight for true stabilization, they side with Iran. Keep In mind Iran and Saudi Arabia are the 2 heavy hitters in the area. Bush sided with the Saudi’s even though the attack on our nations was primarily Saudi’s and Obama is siding with Iran who happens to be responsible for the majority of terror attacks worldwide. Taking a step back would be one thing but to support a terror state over more moderate states is an egregious error.
That brings me to Russia and Vlad Putin. Remember when Obama mocked Republicans for saying Russia was a great threat to our nation? Looks like time has proved them right and Obama warped. Putin does not believe in this globalist agenda that liberals deny is happening. And much of the civilized world is starting to wake up to it outside of our shores. I applaud him for it.
The sad reality is that our government has turned America into the enemy of the world. And it’s not just Obama. Before Obama they hated us for our imperialist attitude. Now they hate us because we ignore the world and possibly even support the destabilization of it. See US funding to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority on top of our current dealings with Iran.
Now the economic side of this. What if I told you that all of these jobs being pushed out of America to other nations was an attack on the people of America planned by the government? Or what if I told you that same plan was created by a worldwide council of elitists who wish for nothing left than destroying national sovereignty worldwide? What if I told you that even as Obama tried to move us away from the world he is destroying American Industry before it really takes off so we must rely on foreign business? Look at the oil side. He claims that we are moving away from reliance from foreign oil yet his EPA does everything in their power to crush the American fracking industry while he makes side deals with Iran.
He claims American energy independence but kills the Keystone Pipeline (most likely at the behest of billionaire train mogul Warren Buffett, who happens to control the current oil transportation nationwide.) Or that he shuts down millions of acres of land that could be drilled on for oil in Alaska. In essence, the policy has been to send jobs out of America, keep the oil flowing from IRAN, and shut down American businesses that try to revive American economy.
He talks about building American business, yet under his direction American businesses pay a higher tax than any other domestic country in the world. Remember in the beginning when I mentioned wealth redistribution and the right and wrong way to work it? This would be the wrong way. You tax businesses at outrageous rates and they will do all they can to find cheap labor (illegals that don’t pay taxes and outsourcing to countries where they can pay a person a nickel for what cost a dollar here.)
To the average American this is scary. What can you possibly do when your own government turns the world as we know it upside down? Our founding fathers warned us that the only way America can fall is if it’s brought down from the inside. Well I present you the elitist agenda, Obama, and the liberal puppets whose asses Obama’s hand is shoved up.
They feed the masses BS like free money for all without disclosing how it gets there. They preach American jobs while they do everything to destroy them, and they not only leave a power vacuum in the Middle East but go as far as to support one of our mortal enemies. As much as someone likes me wishes we could just back away from the world it is no longer an option. The idea that we can sit here safe and sound while we let the world burn is not in anyone’s best interest and unsustainable. With open border policies how do we stop the threat from coming here? Without military intelligence, most of which comes from Israel, how will we know when there is a plan in motion?
I think the last few months have proved to America an overall point I would like to stress in closing. Democrats and Republicans alike do not give a shit about us and both are complicit in this process. In response to Obama we turned the Senate, Reinforced the House and what has the result been? The GOP caving on amnesty, Obamacare, and funding to federal agencies.
So what’s next? If the reports are true then it would be a federal takeover of state and local police forces. At that point, it’s goodbye.