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Veterans of Battle of the Bulge gather in Tucson
Arizona Daily Star ^ | Carol Ann Alaimo

Posted on 10/08/2009 5:18:58 PM PDT by SandRat

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.08.2009 advertisement Six decades after surviving a battle in which many soldiers froze to death, World War II veteran John Swett still dislikes the cold.

This week, he and scores of surviving comrades are basking in Tucson's warmth during the national reunion of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.

More than 100 of these 80- and 90-somethings, who were part of the biggest, bloodiest land fight in U.S. history, are in town for a week of sightseeing and remembrance ceremonies.

It's the first time their annual reunion has been held in the Old Pueblo, hosted by the group's Tucson arm.

"I'm hoping to see people I haven't seen in years," said Swett, 84, a southeast-side resident with the local chapter. The former soldier spent more than three months as a German prisoner of war, suffering frostbite and dropping from 180 to 105 pounds in captivity.

As old age claims more of these veterans, the reunions serve as reminders of what they achieved.

"We're going to be dying out pretty quick," said George McGee, 84, president of the Tucson chapter, which has seen membership dwindle from about 75 to 50 in the past five years. "When we're gone, we don't want people to forget what the battle was all about."

The historic showdown between Germany and America and its allies began nine days before Christmas 1944, when Hitler's troops mounted a massive surprise assault in Belgium and Luxembourg.

The Germans, shrouded in white camouflage to blend in with the snow, were aiming to break through the front line and capture the port city of Antwerp, Belgium, a major supply point for U.S. and Allied troops.

The Americans were not outfitted for winter warfare — few had heavy coats or snow boots. Nonetheless, they fought fiercely for weeks in frigid temperatures to repel the attack.

"Ohhhh it was cold," said former infantryman Buck Bloomer, 86, a midtown resident, who sustained nerve damage from frostbitten feet.

"Sometimes it got down to zero. It was almost always below freezing," he recalled.

At night, to keep from being killed by cold, soldiers huddled together for warmth. "Three of us usually slept together and switched off the center guy every 10 or 15 minutes," Bloomer said.

Initially, the Germans made some progress, forcing the front line to bulge back toward Antwerp, which gave the battle its name.

A month or so later, the Americans and Allies prevailed — but at huge cost.

About 19,000 U.S. personnel were killed — some by gunfire, others by the weather — and about 62,000 were wounded.

On Wednesday in Tucson, those lost in combat were remembered with a wreath-laying service at the Battle of the Bulge memorial at Presidio Park.

Officials from Belgium and Luxembourg flew to Tucson from their embassies in Washington, D.C., to be on hand for the ceremony.

Bloomer was among those who got choked up at the sight. "I still get tears in my eyes," he said. "It never leaves you."

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: bulge; history; honoring; veterand; wwii


World War II Army veterans Chuck McGuire, right, and Theodore Carder listen to speakers at a national reunion of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge held at El Presidio Park.
Photos by Jill Torrance / Arizona daily Star



James Navarro, Flowing Wells High School junior ROTC member, salutes the flag during Wednesday's ceremony. Officials from Belgium and Luxembourg attended.


1 posted on 10/08/2009 5:18:59 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: SandRat

Real heroes. I see the one chap has an A for Airborne.


2 posted on 10/08/2009 5:20:38 PM PDT by Frantzie (Do we want ACORN running America's health care?)
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To: SandRat
Ah! My Dad was in the Battle of the Bulge, lost his tank destroyer, transferred to infantry, and got injured in Belgium with mortar fire, getting his purple heart. He would be 86, if he were alive today.


3 posted on 10/08/2009 5:24:29 PM PDT by Forgiven_Sinner (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not die)
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To: SandRat

My granddad passed away about 6 years back. Lost the hearing in one ear when a German 88 MM artillery shell (I believe) exploded nearby.


4 posted on 10/08/2009 5:24:55 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Seniors, the new shovel ready project under socialized medicine.)
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To: SandRat

God Bless those wonderful men...


5 posted on 10/08/2009 5:25:27 PM PDT by Tennessee Nana
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To: Frantzie
I was talking with a vet of Bastogne the other day. I asked him about where he served, he said "Belgium...F*ing Belgium! Boy was it cold! I still don't like the cold." He had some interesting things to say about his officers as well.
6 posted on 10/08/2009 5:25:49 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard (Truth--The liberal's Kryptonite)
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To: SandRat

My great-uncle died during this battle when he was just 19. It is still hard to comprehend the number of casualties of that war. Hundreds or thousands, daily. Just incredible.

God bless all of these American heroes.


7 posted on 10/08/2009 5:26:55 PM PDT by workerbee (If you vote for Democrats, you are engaging in UnAmerican Activity.)
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To: SandRat

When one compares the character and integrity of these men to that of the current administration (fighting to force homosexuality onto our children), it tells us something about how far we have fallen in the past 50 years. Tragic.


8 posted on 10/08/2009 5:26:57 PM PDT by Dutchboy88
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To: SandRat
Bless them all.

My father and three uncles all fought at the Bulge.

My last surviving uncle use to attend the reunions until his death in 2008.

9 posted on 10/08/2009 5:27:44 PM PDT by mware (F-R-E-E, that spells free. Free Republic.com baby.)
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To: SandRat

Bless these men, brings tears to my eyes.


10 posted on 10/08/2009 5:28:10 PM PDT by Cathy
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To: SandRat

GOD BLESS THESE SAVIOURS OF OUR FREEDOM!!!!


11 posted on 10/08/2009 5:28:23 PM PDT by taillightchaser (When a democrat says "The American people" you know the next words out of his mouth will be lies.)
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To: Frantzie

If you are talking about the A with a circle around it, I believe that was the patch for the 1st Army not airborne.


12 posted on 10/08/2009 5:29:43 PM PDT by doc1019
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To: Frantzie
My name sake was kill in the battle. I remember when my father died in 72 and at the funeral grounds I was looking around and looked down and saw what I thought was my name it turned out to be the uncle whom I was named after very freaky moment.
13 posted on 10/08/2009 5:33:20 PM PDT by guitarplayer1953 (Romak 7.62X54MM, AK47 7.62X39MM, LARGO 9X23MM, HAPINESS IS A WARM GUN BANG BANG YEA YEA)
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To: cripplecreek

When I was 11,My grandfather took me to Europe and we spent alot of time at various areas that were battlefields in and around Bastogne. It was the late 70’s and some of the bomb craters were still visible.

Also, he showed me a hill where he commanded an anti-aircraft gun. He said that the German planes would fly in the valley and his crew would have to shoot down. They knew that they would be killing civilians but it was war and winning was the ticket home. I got a month long history lesson that I never forgot.

THE BEST vacation I ever had was that month in Europe.


14 posted on 10/08/2009 5:34:35 PM PDT by Le Chien Rouge
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To: SandRat

“...biggest, bloodiest land fight in U.S. history...”

Not saying Bulge was any kind of tea party, it was a grueling, terrifying hell, but it probably wasn’t as bloody as Gettysburg by a long shot. Correction welcome.


15 posted on 10/08/2009 5:40:38 PM PDT by Attention Surplus Disorder (It's better to give a Ford to the Kidney Foundation than a kidney to the Ford Foundation.)
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To: Cathy

16 posted on 10/08/2009 5:43:38 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country! What else needs said?)
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To: SandRat

My uncle went through and survived the battle of the bulge and many other campaigns in Europe. A very soft spoken and refined guy, he hardly ever made mention of WWII. As a 2nd Lt.platooon commander, he saw more than his fair share of action. It is only now that I am in my 60’s that I wish I could tell him how much I admired his valor and contribution to this country. Uncle Frank was always more interested in my Viet Nam combat experiences. As I look back on it, I kinda’ think it was his way to deflect my interest and probing in his experiences....and I was always very reluctant to share my experiences. I guess that is what combat does to folks, family or others. Discussion stalmate.

P.S. Even though I now live more than 1,000 miles from where he’s buried, I still have his grave decorated on the Holidays.


17 posted on 10/08/2009 5:45:20 PM PDT by AlphaOneAlpha
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To: doc1019

That would be Third Army


18 posted on 10/08/2009 5:46:14 PM PDT by unkus
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To: Frantzie

Those were Armored Division patches.


19 posted on 10/08/2009 5:47:48 PM PDT by unkus
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To: unkus

Thank you, I knew it wasn’t airborne. My father had one on his uniform and I know he had never jumped out of an airplane.


20 posted on 10/08/2009 5:53:05 PM PDT by doc1019
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To: Frantzie

That is the patch of Patton’s 3rd Army


21 posted on 10/08/2009 5:56:55 PM PDT by DMZFrank
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To: Frantzie

Believe that is 3rd army ensignia

My dad didn`t quite make the Battle of the Buldge,caught
a tree burst that left him with a scar from his right
shoulder to below his left hip

Dad would have been 100 in Feb


22 posted on 10/08/2009 5:59:34 PM PDT by Harold Shea (RVN `70 - `71)
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder

In terms of fatalities Bulge was second, Gettysburg fourth:

1 Battle of Meuse-Argonne World War I: 26,277
2 Battle of the Bulge (WW2) 19,276
3 Battle of Okinawa (WW2) 12,513
4 Battle of Gettysburg (Civil) 7,863
5 Battle of Guadalcanal (WW2) 7,099
6 Battle of Iwo Jima (WW2) 6,821
7 Antietam (Civil) 3,654
8 Battle of Shiloh (Civil) 3,482
9 Bull Run II (Civil) 3,000
10 Battle of Saipan (WW2) 2,949


23 posted on 10/08/2009 6:02:52 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The People have abdicated our duties; ... and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses)
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To: doc1019

No, that was the Third Army...Paton’s Own.


24 posted on 10/08/2009 6:04:37 PM PDT by Redleg Duke ("Don't fire unless fired upon, but it they mean to have a war, let it begin here." J Parker, 1775)
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To: Frantzie
Google images for "Third Army Patch" returns a ton of these:


25 posted on 10/08/2009 6:05:27 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The People have abdicated our duties; ... and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses)
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To: SandRat

My dad was captured December 18th in Heurtgen Forest. He was 3rd Army. Spent 6 months in a German POW camp (most of that time loading and unloading barges outside of Dresden).

He witnessed the bombing of Dresden, and was liberated by the Russians.

The one thing Dad remembers the most is the intense cold. It was one of the coldest winters of the century in Europe.

Interesting, my daughter was born 40 years to the day after his capture.


26 posted on 10/08/2009 6:05:28 PM PDT by A.Hun (Common sense is no longer common.)
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To: Redleg Duke

Gee, my dad served under Patton, who knew. He made it a point never to talked about what he did during WWII. All I know about his service in WWII was that he was in Armored. During the Korean War, he became a medic. Retired after 26 years in the Army. He died in 2001.


27 posted on 10/08/2009 6:10:06 PM PDT by doc1019
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Thanks for that correction...I thought G-burg was in the 50-60K range, and frankly hadn’t even thought the US suffered anything like that number of concentrated KIA in WWI at all.


28 posted on 10/08/2009 6:11:13 PM PDT by Attention Surplus Disorder (It's better to give a Ford to the Kidney Foundation than a kidney to the Ford Foundation.)
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To: SandRat

If anyone is interested in a book dealing with the Bulge at the retail, grunt level I suggest:

http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Bulge-Ardennes-Offensive-1944-1945/dp/1580970230/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255050582&sr=1-9

Poorly organized and editted but this guy understands combat at the squad and platoon level. I can’t recommend it enough.


29 posted on 10/08/2009 6:11:18 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The People have abdicated our duties; ... and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses)
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To: Attention Surplus Disorder

I would never have guessed World War I either, though we lost 100,000 KIA in a very short time there. Those numbers are all KIA, btw.


30 posted on 10/08/2009 6:19:58 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The People have abdicated our duties; ... and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Thanks; just put in my request via Interlibrary Loan.


31 posted on 10/08/2009 6:42:18 PM PDT by condi2008
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To: condi2008

When you’re finished let me know what you think of it.


32 posted on 10/08/2009 6:47:29 PM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The People have abdicated our duties; ... and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses)
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To: Tennessee Nana

Amen. Amen. Amen.


33 posted on 10/08/2009 6:49:33 PM PDT by cubreporter (.)
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To: mware

God bless all your family members and thank them for their service. They are in a nice, warm place now with lots of their friends and families. They were and still are true heroes and deserve the very best.


34 posted on 10/08/2009 6:50:55 PM PDT by cubreporter (.)
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; ...
About 19,000 U.S. personnel were killed -- some by gunfire, others by the weather -- and about 62,000 were wounded.

35 posted on 10/08/2009 6:55:07 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/__Since Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: AlphaOneAlpha

Same with my Unk. Miss him much. God got him now.


36 posted on 10/08/2009 7:03:12 PM PDT by goodtomato (I'm blessed!)
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To: doc1019

You’re welcome. My Dad was in CBI - China, India Burma.

God bless them all.


37 posted on 10/08/2009 7:27:15 PM PDT by unkus
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To: unkus

And God Bless our current military, who seem to be of the same caliber as or WWII military.


38 posted on 10/08/2009 7:30:48 PM PDT by doc1019
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To: doc1019

Out current military is outstanding. God bless them.


39 posted on 10/08/2009 7:38:54 PM PDT by unkus
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To: SandRat

“I consider it no sacrifice to die for my country. In my mind, we came here to thank God that men like these have lived rather than to regret that they have died.”

General George S. Patton


40 posted on 10/08/2009 7:52:08 PM PDT by Patriot Hooligan ("God have mercy on my enemies because I won't." General George S. Patton)
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To: doc1019

You had a very courageous and dedicated Father. I know you are very proud of him and his memory.


41 posted on 10/09/2009 3:43:13 AM PDT by Redleg Duke ("Don't fire unless fired upon, but it they mean to have a war, let it begin here." J Parker, 1775)
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To: SandRat

My FIL got a silver star and purple heart here.


42 posted on 10/09/2009 5:52:37 PM PDT by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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