Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Reserve Soldiers Capture History Supporting 60th Anniversary of D-Day

Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Reserve Soldiers Capture History Supporting 60th Anniversary of D-Day

Article excerpt

Members of the 305th and 53rd Military History Detachments (MHD), 99th Regional Readiness Command (RRC) deployed to Belgium and Luxembourg to join Task Force Ardennes in support of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. As so many World War II veterans pass away, the milestone event commemorating the biggest battle in American history gave detachment members a rare opportunity to listen to these proud Americans tell their stories of personal courage and describe their individual experiences. The oral histories gathered at this anniversary will be compiled as part of an Army publication on the Battle of the Bulge.

In the early hours of Dec. 16, 1944, Adolph Hitler launched his final gambit to turn the tide of the war in Western Europe. Using three armies consisting of seven armored divisions and 14 infantry or paratroop divisions, Hitler threw over 250,000 Soldiers against a thinly held front of 83,000 U.S. troops. Many of the American troops were in the Ardennes sector, widely considered quiet and safe, to reorganize after the bitter battle of the Hurtgen Forest on the German-Belgian border. Others were new to the war effort and were sent to Ardennes to acclimate to wartime conditions before being committed to "real" combat.

When the Battle of the Bulge ended in February 1945, Hitler's offensive had been crushed and the Germans were on an irreversible course to defeat. More than 600,000 U.S. troops - 29 divisions, six mechanized cavalry groups and three separate regiments - had been thrown into the Ardennes to battle a German force of over 500,000 Soldiers from 28 divisions. Casualties were monumental: more than 80,000 U.S. casualties, including more than 11,000 Soldiers killed in action, and more than 81,000 German casualties, including more than 20,000 killed in action.

Sixty years later, more than 200 U.S. veterans gathered all across Belgium and Luxembourg to remember this historic battle. Task Force Ardennes was created to support and coordinate the official Department of Defense-sponsored events. A joint service task force made up mainly of military personnel from U.S. forces in Europe, the Task Force (TF) coordinated color guards, speakers, VIP visits, bands and other U.S. supported missions. The TF Ardennes commander, MG David T. Zabecki, recognized the historical importance of this event and contacted the 99th RRC, requesting the participation of the 305th and 53rd Military History Detachments. …

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