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Why do you shoot medics?

They put us in cattle cars...


Risto Milosevich grew up in East Los Angeles, California. During summer vacation he would repair concrete driveways to earn money.He attended Garfield High School and graduated in the summer of 1942. He then started classes at USC [Annotator's Note: University of Southern California]. He was called to active duty after his first semester. He was sent to Salt Lake City, Utah.Milosevich got out of the army in 1945 after he had been a prisoner of war for six months.Milosevich was in his second semester of the ASTP [Annotator's note: Army Specialized Training Program] when he got married. He was studying civil engineering. The program was set up to where they would complete six three month semesters.Milosevich's plans were quashed when he was captured, but the Germans paid a high price for taking them. His group killed over 500 German soldiers.In the ASTP, Milosevich's group started with 500 soldiers and ended up with only 79.Milosevich was studying engineering at the John Tarleton Agricultural College in Texas [Annotator's note: now Tarleton State University].His first child was born while he was at sea on his way to Liverpool, England. There were 50 ships in the convoy.After the ASTP, Milosevich was sent to Camp Hood, Texas for basic training. A lot of guys died going through the courses they had to run in training.


Major Kriz [Annotator's Note: 394th Infantry Regiment's commanding officer] hand-picked the men. They were chosen by IQ and it was required that they speak a foreign language. Kriz trained the men of the I&R platoon very well.Kriz had been decorated for actions in North Africa and retired as a colonel.Milosevich thought Bouck [Annotator's note: Lyle Bouck, Lieutenant in charge of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment - NWWIIM holds Bouck's oral history as well] worked very hard for them. He would give the men his liquor ration. He looked out for his men.Milosevich worked in the office. He would design courses for patrols. He was promoted to corporal.The platoon would take ten and twenty mile hikes and went through the obstacle course every day.The platoon was put up for the Medal of Honor but it was turned down and four of them were awarded the DSC [Annotator's Note: Distinguished Service Cross ] in its place.Milosevich and fellow soldier Slape were good friends. Slape was in the hole with him at Lanzerath. Slape manned the .50 caliber machine gun which was mounted on a Jeep. When the .50 was hit and put out of action, Slape started firing his carbine until it ran out of ammunition. Then Slape jumped into the hole with him .Slape took over the machine gun. Milosevich had to tell him to fire in bursts of 3. Slape eventually burned up the machine gun. He then took Milosevich's M1 and fired it.


Milosevich was informed that he had a daughter while he was still aboard ship to England. He thought about his child when he was captured by the Germans [Annotator's note: during the Battle of the Bulge]. He had never seen her.Everyone but Milosevich was seasick on the trip overseas.The men were in England for about three weeks. They were staying in Quonset huts on the grounds of a castle. The huts were very cold.Fellow soldier Bill James was beat up by some British soldiers so he and some other members of the platoon would beat up every British soldier they came across.Milosevich thought they were going to die on December 16th [Annotator's Note: 16 December 1944]. He went out on a patrol with Bouck [Annotator's note: Lyle Bouck, Lieutenant in charge of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment] looking for Slape and Kreger. On both sides of the road he could see Germans marching. The line of enemy troops was strung out for three quarters of a mile. There were at least 10,000 of them. Milosevich killed a lot of them with his machine gun. He didn't hit any of the civilians.The weather was miserable when they got to Huningue [Annotator's note: Huningue, France in Alsace, then German territory]. They were not equipped for the bad weather.Jenkins couldn't walk because of trench foot and McGehee had to carry him. After the war McGehee had some issues. He told Milosevich that he didn't think that they deserved their medals.


When they were in the prisoner of war camp in Serbia the Serbs would go out on work details. Milosevich was able to speak to the Serbs and the Germans let them. The Serbs were able to bring him over to their compound.He would have to break up fights between the Serbs and the Croatians.Before going to Lanzerath, Major Kriz [Annotator's Note: 394th Infantry Regiment's commanding officer] had the men out patrolling every day. Kriz led a 100 man patrol into a German camp and grabbed a prisoner and none of the men were hurt.While out on the lines the men could hear the rumbling of engines all night. On the last night the Germans made no attempt to hide the noise.On the morning of the attack [Annotator's note: 16 December 1944] Bouck [Annotator's note: Lyle Bouck, Lieutenant in charge of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment] called the colonel to tell him what was happening. The colonel rejected what Bouck was telling him. Bouck was told to hold the position at all costs.When the men got to their position overlooking Lanzerath they took over positions previously occupied by the 2nd Infantry Division.McGehee was carrying the platoon's only bazooka. They had a couple of Jeeps because they were the eyes and ears of the division.The 2nd Army [Annotator's Note: Milosevich means the 2nd Infantry Division] had constructed a log cabin behind their positions. The cabin was big enough for eight of the men to sleep in it at a time.


The 88's [Annotator's Note: German 88 millimeter artillery] started coming in at them around 5:00am [Annotator's note: on 16 December 1944 during the start of the Battle of the Bulge]. One round hit very close to Milosevich's position.After the artillery barrage Bouck [Annotator's note: Lyle Bouck, Lieutenant in charge of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment] called Milosevich and told him that they were going out to look for Slape. They were deep in the snow when he saw Slape and Kreger running toward them. When they started back for their positions they came across the other two guys that had been off of the line.Milosevich got into the hole with the .30 caliber machine gun. He sent a kid to go back to the log cabin to grab him some clean socks. He ended up fighting the whole battle barefoot.The Germans who attacked were young kids. Milosevich feels bad about having to kill them. All of the men in the platoon were all good shots. Kriz [Annotator's Note: Major Kriz, 394th Infantry Regiment's commanding officer] had seen to that.When Milosevich saw the Germans walking up the hill he thought that they were stupid. After fending off the first attack they collected their wounded while the Germans collected theirs.After they had been captured they had to carry wounded Germans. They dropped one of them. They had no mercy on the Germans. They hated them.Milosevich was wounded when he got out of his hole. The wound didn't heal for six months.


During the first attack the Germans walked toward Milosevich's position. No tanks were sent at them for fear that they would be taken out by bazookas.Milosevich was scared for the first five minutes. He took out his fair share of Germans.The German asked for a truce to collect thier wounded. One of the German medics who came out pretended to treat a man that Milosevich knew was dead. The man was calling in mortar fire on them so Slape shot and killed the man. During interrogation he was asked why they shot medics.Milosevich saw a German machine gunner setting up a tripod. He picked up his machine gun and shot the man. He then shot another enemy soldier right in front of his hole and cut him in half.The pine trees in the area where Milosevich was dug in were very thick. It was hard to move through them because the trees were so close together.While out looking for other members of the platoon he spotted a large number of Germans.The Germans didn't see Milosevich until he opened fire. When the smoke cleared after the first attack the field was littered with dead and wounded. Most of the bodies on the ground were dead.


Milosevich did not know of the plan to pull back.The Germans flanked the position and captured hole after hole. They would approach the holes with platoon members in front of them and order the men to come out. The German took their dog tags after capturing them.Some of the men were taken to a cafe.Milosevich had thoughts of escaping but Bouck [Annotator's note: Lyle Bouck, Lieutenant in charge of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment] talked him out of it. Milosevich believes that he could have made it.Milosevich had hepatitis and was unable to eat the food that the Serbs were giving him. He saved it up in order to attempt an escape from the prisoner of war camp. The weather was bad. The men had to learn to sleep in the ice.After capture by the Germans the men were put in cattle cars. Eighty men were packed into each car. Conditions were terrible. The men were not fed during the trip into Germany.The men were given a loaf of bread for eleven men that was made of saw dust and five to seven years old. Milosevich weighed 195 pounds while in the service but only weighed 98 pounds after release from the prison camp.The men were taken first to Nuremberg, Germany and then to Hammelburg, Germany.General George S. Patton [Annotator's Note: Commander of the U.S. Third Army] sent tanks and infantry to liberate the camp. The patrol made it to the camp but were caught by the Germans the next morning. Milosevich was so sick that he made no attempt to escape.Patton was a hero to Milosevich .Milosevich was placed on another cattle car and taken to Moosburg, Germany. There he was liberated by the 99th Infantry Division. Major Kriz [Annotator's Note: 394th Infantry Regiment's commanding officer] saw him first. Kriz had a Piper Cub brought in and had Milosevich flown to the 36th General Hospital.Milosevich was three points short of getting out of the Army. He offered to serve three months at Fort MacArthur [Annotator's note: Near Los Angeles, California]. He worked the night shift there discharging returning soldiers. If the soldier to be discharged was a combat veteran Milosevich would change the numbers so they could get out.


Milosevich had to sign the papers to release Colonel Kriz [Annotator's Note: 394th Infantry Regiment's commanding officer] from duty.He was nervous being back in the States.Milosevich's mother thought for sure that he was dead. His father sat on the porch listening to the radio for news.His younger brother died when he was vaccinated. The doctor had used the same needle to inject multiple kids.When Milosevich got home he had a relapse of his hepatitis. He was hospitalized and it wasn't until he saw a specialist who discovered a spot on one of his organs that he was made aware of what his problem was. The doctor removed the bad organ and he felt much better. He started to put weight back on.Milosevich did not go back to school after he got out of the service. He was making too much money working.The men were awarded their DSCs [Annotator's Note: Distinguished Service Cross] at the same time. Everyone was happy getting their medals except McGehee.Milosevich attended a couple of football games with Kalil and he still talks to another former platoon member.


The one thing that stands out the most in Milosevich's mind about the Battle of the Bulge was that he expected a bullet to kill him at any moment. At one point several German soldiers were about to execute them but were stopped by a colonel who happened to be passing by.Jenkins made it back to the log cabin and was captured there.Milosevich was invited to a party for Jenkins but couldn't go because of medical issues.Being able to move after sleeping on ice was difficult.Milosevich thought that the Germans were very clever. He believes that they were made for war.If given the opportunity to do it all over again he would, except for his prisoner of war experience.He is very proud of what he did.

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