Segment 16

Annotation

The Ardennes was cold. It was so cold that you got wet and couldn't get dry. GIs learned to wash your socks and then tie them around your neck and chest so you could dry them and wear them. The front rifle companies had to keep moving and if they got to a stream, they had to cross it and would get wet. Baldwin remembers wearing 2 pairs of socks, a pair of boots and then a big rubber boot. His feet didn't bother him that much. Jack remembers them spearheading the fighting up to the Bulge. They crossed the Ruhr Valley and got extended ahead of the American lines. The Germans were letting them move in an attempt to get on both sides of them and try to cut them off. General Robertson realized what was happening. They threw away everything they had and tried to hide in the daytime and move as fast as they could at night. 1 day they were eating K-rations and it was cold. The Germans started shelling them and a shell hit the telephone pole and it just fell on a member of Cannon Company. The crossbar landed on him and he was squealing like a pig. It was pretty funny. At night time, they would march or move out as far as they could. General Robertson got them back to American lines and did so with minimal casualties. Their guns were gone, rifles gone and they had nothing to shoot at. This was about the only time this ever happened besides the time that Captain Fritts got them across enemy lines by accident. Baldwin remembered seeing SS troops at one point when Cannon Company was moving through a town that the rifle companies had already been through. All of the sudden it was like the ground opened up. The SS troops had dug holes in the ground and covered them up. They hid there for a while and communicated with someone and organized the attack. When they finally surrendered, there were some that quit and had on their black uniforms and shiny buckles and things. Baldwin remembered at Brest, France seeing German prisoners for the first time. Some hundreds or thousands of German prisoners were there and many dead too. When talking about these battles and winning them, you were paying a price. You had losses too. Baldwin remembered some story being written about the 2nd Infantry Division while they were around Elsenborn Ridge. They knocked out some 50 tanks, killed 700 Germans, wounded 1,160 or so and that was a great victory. But it never mentioned what it cost in doing so. It didn't mention how many men they lost in that fight. It wasn't until many years later that people found that out. Baldwin recalled not talking about the war much and even working for people that didn't even know he was in the service. He 1st started talking about it in the late 1990s when a local principal kept asking him to come talk to his classes about the war. He and Baldwin became good friends and finally he convinced Baldwin to come up and talk to the school children. He took his American flag, German gear and other things and they helped him set it up. Then the children would come in and he would talk about it. He was always so nervous and let them know that somewhere in there he was going to talk about God getting him home.

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