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Kalil grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana during the Great Depression. He was one of nine children, six girls and three boys. His parents were of Lebanese descent. He was raised in a very strict Roman Catholic home. He attended Catholic grade school and the local public high school. He graduated high school in 1941. His family was very close. After high school, he went to work at a local factory that produced boots and raincoats. He worked there for six months before being drafted in 1942. He was not surprised; he knew when his number was coming up. He went to Camp Perry, Ohio for enlistment. He wanted to go into the Air Force, but he did not care if they sent him into another branch.He did basic training at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi [Annotator’s Note: Outside Centreville, Mississippi]. He recalls stepping off the train and being knee deep in red clay. He was placed in the 99th Infantry Division. They interviewed Kalil and placed him in the I&R [Annotator’s Note: Intelligence and Reconnaissance] Platoon. He thinks they placed him in the I&R Platoon because he was good at history and geography. He was good friends with a Joe McConnell, they met when they got off the train in camp. He and McConnell were some of the original members of the I&R Platoon. They did not care for the ASTP [Annotator’s Note: Army Specialized Training Program] men when they first transferred to the platoon.He completed basic training in 13 weeks. After basic, they completed maneuvers in Louisiana. They were initially training for the South Pacific in Louisiana.

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Kalil and the others were not prepared while training in Louisiana. They did not have any of the equipment they would be using in the field. The US Army trained them to solve problems and collect intel [Annotator’s Note: intelligence] from behind enemy lines. He trained in Louisiana for three months. They had some free time, but no liberty. He did not care for Louisiana, he was afraid of the snakes. He then went to Camp Maxie in Paris, Texas. They trained there and completed night training. They would go to Dallas for liberty occasionally. The men from ASTP [Annotator’s Note: Army Specialized Training Program] started entering the platoon in early 1943. They trained for so long that he thought they may not ship out.Kalil recalls Lyle Bouck taking over the platoon at the end of 1943. Bouck was younger than all the men under his command. Kalil could not recall how the men felt about Bouck but they accepted him. He was a good platoon leader. He was nice, but honest. The men had to live up to Bouck’s expectations or he would get rid of him. Bouck did not play favorites.

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The men were glad to see their commander Lyle Bouck come in and replace their original platoon leader. None of the men liked their first platoon leader. Bouck put them through a lot of physical training. In July of 1944, they finally received word that they were being shipped overseas. They shipped out from Boston, Massachusetts. Kalil did not care for the ship they took overseas. It was very crowded. He only got sick once.They did not do much to occupy the time aboard the ship besides PT and sessions. They only had two meals per day. It took five days after crossing the Atlantic to reach their camp in southern England. They completed more training there in the hills. In September of 1944, they boarded LSTs [Annotator’s Note: Landing Ship, Tank] and crossed the English Channel, landing in La Havre, France.

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Kalil thought his chance of survival was fifty percent. They traveled straight to the Ardennes Forest and stayed in a village called Huningen, France. They dug foxholes. Kalil recalls spotting shells from an artillery unit, but Bouck was not happy that they used Kalil as a spotter. The men knew that the civilians in Huningen were Belgian Germans. Their I&R [Annotator’s Note: Intelligence and Reconnaissance] platoon eventually replaced the artillery battalion on the front lines. In Huningen, they went on patrol several times around the town, collecting intelligence. They could not fight unless they were attacked. He recalls Bouck suspending patrol on Thanksgiving and telling the men they were going to have a hot turkey dinner, but Major Kris ordered a patrol anyway.The weather was horrible on that patrol, they were not prepared for the weather. They did not get any of the Thanksgiving dinner. Kalil was angry and frustrated, but the men got a hot breakfast the next morning. Bouck said they were going to be on the line for ten days. They transferred to the front because the British needed reinforcements to take the dikes in Belgium.

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Kalil mentions moving into the positions previously occupied by the 2nd Infantry Division at Lanzareth, Belgium. Kalil remembers reinforcing the foxholes when they got there. They were lightly armed. He shared a foxhole with George Redmond. They had two M1 rifles [Annotator’s Note: M1 Garand rifles] and a grenade launcher. Bouck managed to obtain a 50 cal. maching gun mounted on the back of a Jeep, but Kalil does not know how he got it. During the initial weeks they were there, several men got sick. He mentions that they sent a man named Leopold back to their previous post because he was a German Jew and if they were captured he would be shot on sight. The people in the village did the men's laundry in exchange for sugar. Kalil never went into Lanzareth.Kalil thought they were prepared enough to defend their position without much difficulty. He recalls carrying Dick Adams to the CP [Annotator’s Note: Command Post] because he had frozen feet. Kalil and Redmond used to take turns sleeping. Leading up to the attacks, they heard German tanks and automobiles in the town below. Bouck sent reports back, but no one believed him and they could not get planes in the air to verify the Germans were there because the weather was so bad. He said the sounds were very eerie.Kalil comments on George Redmond. He was a very nice man and they looked out for each other. He trusted him completely.

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Kalil recalls the events that took place on 16 December of 1944. They woke to artillery fire around 5:30 a.m. The shooting lasted for two hours. The Germans began to attack from the front, coming up the middle of the road. They fired at the Germans, who retreated back to Lanzareth, Belgium. About two hours later, the Germans started attacking again, but they started coming up the hill during this attack. They were engaged in heavy battle. Kalil was hit on the left side of his face by a rifle grenade. Redmond patched him up, but he was still dazed from the wound.The Germans retreated again. During the second retreat, they raised a white flag in order to collect their dead. Bouck called for reinforcements, but was told that they were on their own. They ran out of ammunition during the third attack and the Germans overran their position. The whole platoon was captured. They marched them down the hill with the rest of the platoon. This attack was the first time any of them had been under artillery fire. Kalil thought he was going to die.

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Kalil did not think he was going to survive after seeing all the Germans in the town. All he remembers from getting hit, seeing a German out of his peripheral vision and before he knew it he was blown from one side of the fox hole to the other. He does not know how it got that close to him. He remained conscious, but was dazed. He could still talk, but he was badly injured. Redmond did not tell him how bad he was injured. He was coherent the entire time. He continued to fight wounded and he was scared. He told Redmond if he got a chance, he should leave, but Redmond refused to go.The Germans dragged them out of their foxhole and took them into Lanzerath, Belgium. They laid them down outside of a cafe. Kalil and Redmond tried to keep one another calm. He does not know what took place in the cafe. The German medics made no attempt to take care of Kalil and the other wounded men. The next morning Kalil was separated from the rest of the platoon.

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After separating Kalil from the rest of the platoon after his capture, the Germans loaded Kalil on a truck and took him to a train station. He did not know what the Germans were going to do to him. He thought about escaping, but he was too weak. They laid him between the cars of the train for at least three days. He had no idea where they took him. He thinks the German respected the infantry men more than the air men; they hated the air men for all the bombings in Germany. After the train stopped, the Germans loaded Kalil and the other wounded men in an ambulance and took them to a hospital.Kalil states that his faith played a part in him staying sane and alive. He thought about his family all the time and he was worried about them getting a telegram about him being MIA [Annotator’s Note: Missing in Action]. The Germans did not treat his wounds until they reached a hospital in Hanover, Germany. In the hospital Kalil met a British prisoner of war, Sgt. Robertson. On 24 December 1944, Kalil told Robertson that he was running a fever and did not feel well. A German doctor inspected him and told him that gangrene was setting in and they needed to operate.

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The Germans repaired Kalil's mouth and jaw. He did not mind it. He remembers the worst part was them cutting him open and draining the area that was gangrene. He passed when they cut him open. He thought he was going to die. He could not stand the smell of the gangrene. The Germans would change his bandages twice a day and Robertson would get him out of bed to walk around the room.On 27 December 1944, Hanover, Germany was bombed and he was stuck on the fifth floor of the hospital. Kalil thought the artillery barrage was bad, but it was nothing like the air raids. He said the raids continued for several days. He was joined for a few days by British and Canadian airmen who had been shot down.After a few weeks, an American P-47 pilot joined him in the ward. Kalil spoke with the guy for quite a while. His plane was shot down and he was turned over to the SS, who shot him in the neck. The pilot was taken to the hospital by local farmers.

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Kalil does not know what happened to the P-47 pilot. The airmen were taken to a different camp from the infantry. He spent his days reading the same book and talking to Robertson. The Germans fed him, but it was a liquid diet. He finally got enough strength to walk down to the air raid shelter during bombings in mid January 1945. In the bomb shelter, he met Roy Burke, a member of the 101st Airborne Division. Burke would not talk to him at first, but they became great friends. The Germans interrogated the Americans. The man who interrogated Kalil was from Detroit, Michigan. He was in Europe when the war started and he could not get back to the states. Kalil was furious with the man for fighting with the Germans.Kalil talks about the Battle of the Bulge. He says that is where the American soldiers really showed they could fight. The small squads and platoons kept the Germans at bay more than the large regiments and divisions did. The I&R [Annotator’s Note: Intelligence and Reconnaissance] Platoon held the Germans off for eight hours with only eighteen men. From the hospital in Hanover, Germany, the Germans sent Kalil to a prisoner of war camp.

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When the Germans unloaded the prisoners of war from the trains, Kalil remembers British medics helping them. He recalls one medic who took his class ring out of fear that the Germans would kill him for it. He promised to give it back to Kalil when they reached the camp, a promise he kept. The British medical team took very good care of the Americans. Kalil was still wounded, but healing. He was in the camp from January to April of 1945. The camp was liberated on 16 April 1945. He saw some of the other men from his original platoon in the camp.He knew that the Allies were moving closer to the camp because they could hear the artillery. The British 1st Army under Reynolds liberated the camp. They were ecstatic to be liberated. The British treated them very well. They flew Kalil and the other men to Brussels, Belgium. They were there for a week to rest before going to England and getting back with the Americans. They stayed in England for three weeks resting and being evaluated. Then Kalil and Roy Burke were flown back to the United States.

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Kalil mentions that it was quite an ordeal flying back to the United States because one of the engines caught on fire and they encountered a lightning storm. They thought they were never going to make it home. Kalil and Roy Burke were sent to Cleveland, Ohio for plastic surgery. Burke was like a brother to him. He told his parents not to come to Cleveland, he did not want them to see his wounds. The Army forced him to go home for thirty days. His parents were so happy to see him, his father knelt down and kissed the ground out of custom. They had no idea he was alive until March 1945.Kalil's most vivid memories from Lanzareth were getting wounded and making it out alive. He is thankful that they were captured by humane Germans and not the SS. He never thought he would make it out alive, but he prayed and his faith got him through it. If he had to, he would do over again. He is proud to have served in the platoon that he did with the men that he served with. He was awarded the Silver Star, but he thought everyone deserved it. He tries to keep in touch with some of the men, like Sam Jenkins, Joe McConnell, and Lyle Bouck [Annotator’s Note: Jenkins and Bouck were other members of Kalil’s I&R platoon]. He is so thankful for the time he had.

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