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US Army

My Personal Memories

My Personal Memories.

 
Published in the Gravel Agitator, the Newsletter of the 27 A.I.B. Association Christmas 2009.
 
My personal memories of the war returned to me as the names of our battle casualties were read.  These thoughts do come to me periodically in my life and I am able to contain them inside myself.
 
Prior to Christmas of 1944, on the 17th of December we met head on with the advancing 62nd Volksgrenadier Division.  My platoon formed a scrimmage line, we were told that we would not advance on the German force.  I was witness to Sergeant Harry Arndt getting hit by musketry.  We were in "Brussel-B Hill" facing hill 491, that was to be our objective three hours later.  I was able to get Harry into an anti-shock position where his feet were higher than his head, which at this time was in my lap, I heard him gurgling, as we finally got him evacuated to our Battalion Aid Station in Steinbruck.  The Army listed him as "Died of Wounds".  He was the assistant squad leader of my third rifle squad and I held him in high esteem.  After the war I wrote to his mother, in Blue Earth, Minnesota, my letter of condolences.  At about 10.00 hours Pfc Lewis Keeton (shell fragment in the chest witch a collapsed lung) and Pfc Albert Mincey (I don't know what happened to him) were wounded by mortar fire, I did not know of this incident at that time.  They were assigned to my first squad led by S/Sgt Albert Melcher.
 
Later that same day my platoon was to make a frontal attack on Hill 491, about 300 to 400 yards from my platoons "Line of Departure".  The artillery preparation came at 1300 hours and lasted for about five minutes.  I led my first squad, S/Sgt Albert Melcher towards the objective, Pfc Nick Dello, from my machine gun squad provided our direct supporting fire.  S/Sgt Welton Law told me that he was unable to hear anything.  I sent him back to the aid Station and yelled to Sgt Jack Tuerk to take over the squad.
 

My third Squad under S/Sgt Eugene Pencofski and his squad became pinned down by German machine gun fire and Pencofski was hit and survived the war.  T/Sgt Jim Chandler moved forward with Sgt Tuerk and his squad.  As we had gone about 200 yards I came to a rise in the ground and I heard from my Company Commander, Captain Henry Wirsig.  He said "Pete where is the rest of your platoon?"  I then hit the ground to look behind and have a conference with my captain.  I said "If there not behind me, I don't know where they are".

 
At this time we were getting grazing fire from our right flank about 30 inches off the ground.  Captain Wirsig was hit in the stomach by at least one burst of fire.  Pfc Robert Walton and Pfc William Csicek were both hit and down, as was Sgt Melcher off to my right rear.  I yelled to Melcher roll down the hill to the cover of a drainage channel, I also saw that my platoon medic was running toward the spot where Walton and Csicek were lying.  I told Pfc Paul Gage to hit the ground and don't come up here.  He was hit and fell on Csicek.  We were unable to advance.  I could see that Lieutenant Awalt was unable to reach his objective on my right flank.  Dello and his machine gun found a protected spot and was shooting in the direction of the German guns.  I crawled to where he was set up and determined that Wirsing was dead of nearly so, as was Melcher and I crawled by Gage and Csicek and determined they were near death.
 
I saw Lieutenant Lawrence Awalt running toward the rear of my position and as he told me that his platoon was pinned down, he was hit with at least four bullets into his groin by a German machine gun.  I could see that to continue the advance would fail, I decided to move my platoon back to the "Line of Departure".  I ordered Chandler to move them back, and I then noticed that Walton moved, and rescued him and carried him back to where we could load him on the "Peep" ambulance.  Bob's leg was later amputated.
 
I talked with Peter Madorno, one of "B" Company's aid men at one of our past reunions, and he told me that he examined the bodies of Wirsig, Csicek, Gage and Melcher: and that they were dead.In the ensuing seven days near St Vith we held our assigned positions until ordered to the rear.  The 82nd Airborne Division provided the road guides.  And I don't know the town I was in but I was on a billeting party; finding houses to move our company into.  It was Christmas Eve and had to be reminded of what day it was.  I am sure that I have related my story several times, when I hear the names of these fine men I am ever grateful to them and thankful that I survived.
 
1st Lt Robert J PETERSON

2nd Platoon,

"B" Company

27th Armored Infantry Battalion

9th Armored Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium