US Army

My Guardian Angel

My Guardian Angel

 
My two brothers and I often talked about how lucky we were to survive World War II.  After a number of incidents, we decided it was because we each had a “Guardian Angel” who protected us.  This is my story about just one incident in which I survived because of my guardian angel.
 
In December of 1944, my outfit, under General George Patton, was attacking the famous German Siegfried Line leading to the invasion of Germany, near the town of Strasbourg, France.  It was very cold on December 16, 1944, when we were pulled back off the line and were told the Germans were making a large invasion to our north in the area of Belgium and Luxembourg.  Adolph Hitler, the German dictator, was hoping to win a great victory, split the Allies, and ask for peace, thus ending the war.  This was the beginning of the most decisive battle in Europe of World War II, known as the Battle of the Bulge.
 
My regiment was now taken off the line and moved northward in open trucks to Luxembourg and Belgium to stop the German invasion.  This surprise attack by the Germans led to the huge bulge in our lines of fifty miles, thus this became the Battle of the Bulge.  Our objective was to cut off their bulge and cut the invading German armies off from the rest.
 
We arrived at our destination around midnight and it was already snowing and very cold.  Around 2:30 a.m., we were told to dig fox holes and hold the line.  For the next week, we were in rough fighting with the invading German under extreme cold weather conditions.  Our planes couldn’t get in the air to strafe the Germans because of the fog and snow.
 
Around 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Day, despite the cold and snow, we launched an attack from a wooded area, hoping to capture a small town.  At the time, our company was down to just 15 men when we attacked across the flat, snow-covered field with the German machine gunners on our right flank.  As I was running forward firing my rifle, suddenly I went flying through the air.  The first thing I remember saying was: “You clumsy Ox, you have tripped over your own big feet.”  As I hit the ground, I then realized I hadn’t tripped, but was shot in my legs by the German machine gunners.
 
Now, I made my first big mistake.  As I lay there in the snow, I decided to turn over on my side, raise up and take care of my wounds.  We were trained to carry a small package of penicillin and pour the contents on your wounds to keep down infection.  The other soldiers in my outfit, who weren’t wounded, kept running toward the town, so I was a visible, easy target lying in the snow.  Now, the German machine gunners saw I wasn’t dead and opened up again hoping to finish me off.  I tried digging with my hands in the cold, snowy earth and hung close to the ground without getting hit.  The German machine gun bullets were hitting little puffs of snow all around me.  I remember closing my eyes, and praying with all my heart: “Please, dear God!  Don’t let me die now.  I am still alive; let me get out of here.”  I know I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before in my live.
 
After it seemed like a long time, probably about five minutes, I made my second mistake because I raised up again to see whether or not of my wounded other buddies may be near me.  The German machine gunners saw I was still alive and started shooting again with bullets all around me.  I again started praying and decided I would not move anymore until it was dark, hoping my sergeant, Frank Rivera, or some medic would come out looking for me.  As I lay there, it was getting colder and darker.  I kept thinking to myself,  “What a way to spend Christmas.”
 
When it finally gat dark and much colder, I felt sure my sergeant would come looking for me.  Sure enough, Frank Rivera, came out and found me.  However, there was still a problem of how to carry me.  I was 6’ 4” tall and weighed about 217 to 220, so I was a load to carry.  Frank solved that problem easily, he came with a wheel-barrel, hoisted me up, and wheeled me in to the medic aid station in the town.  Later, I was taken by ambulance to Luxembourg City, to be operated on, then flew to Paris and then landed in England on New Year’s Eve a very happy soldier.  In March 1945, I was sent back to a different outfit in France, supposedly to get ready to go to the Pacific area to finish the war with Japan.  Luckily, Japan surrendered in August of 1945 so I didn’t have to go to the Pacific.
 
After the war, my brothers and I all talked about incidents like this one and wondered why we weren’t killed.  We all decided that we had a “Guardian Angel.”  I personally later thought about at least four other incidents, besides this one, where someone had protected me.  It must have been my “Guardian Angel”: I truly believe we all have one.
 
Source: Bulge Bugle, August 2002
John B. MASTERSON

 318th Infantry Regiment

80th Infantry Division

Campaign

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium