The Remembrances of:
John R. Gooch ~ Daniel R. (Bob) Shine
This is an assay written by my father, Sgt. John R. Gooch, who was a member of the 575th Signal Company, 75th Infantry division during WWII. This was written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the “Battle of the Bulge” and more than 95 straight days of combat during the final Allied drive into Germany. As the WWII veterans first hand accounts become fewer and fewer by each passing day, it is hoped future generations will be able to read their thoughts and understand a little bit of how their actions and the events occurring during the winter of 1944 changed the history of the world.
Sgt. John R. Gooch
75th Infantry Division
575th Signal Company
Arrived in France on December 14, 1944
Written on December 6, 1994
As December 16th marks the 50th anniversary of the “Battle of the Bulge,” World War II, I would like to make a few comments about the 75th Infantry Division that I loved and served with during World War II.
Our division was activated April 13, 1943 at Fort Leonard Wood Mo. After about 18 months of training, we were sent to the European theater. The 75th was slated to serve with the 9th Army, but was changed to the direction of Belgium where General Von Rumdstedt was pile-driving the Nazi juggernaut deep into Belgium. His objective was to spit the Allied armies in half and go all the way to the Channel. This is where the fighting men of the 75th first entered into combat, on Christmas Day 1944.
I cannot tell in the letter all stories that come to my mind about the stories that came back from the front lines after that first combat action that our men found themselves in that first night. Hand to hand combat with the Nazi troops and many other stories of our men in action. But let me say we were just a small part of the million or so young men, 600,000 were Americans that went on through the freezing rain snow and ice to become gloriously victorious. On or about January 25, 1945 the “Battle of the Bulge” was over. There were over 80,000 casualties.
Our 75th went on to take part in at least three more major battles. One of which was the “Colmar Bulge” or “Colmar Pocket” which earned us a name given lovingly to us by one or our commanders. That name was “The Bulge Busters.” Our division also earned the unit citation “The Cross of War” by the French government.
However this letter is intended to allow me, as just one radio squad leader with the 575th Signal Company, to pay my tribute to the combat soldier. Mainly the “Dough Boys” of “Foot Soldiers” who endured the hand to hand combat in the rain, snow, freezing and unbearable circumstances of war. This was ingrained in my mind forever. One day as we moved through a battle ground in the Ardennes Forrest just after the battle and before the burial teams arrived. Young men, both American and German, were laying just feet from each other, dead in combat fighting for the country which they loved.
If you are a foot soldier who survived this type of action anywhere, anytime, any war - God Bless You! If you are a loved one, parent, or friend of anyone who did not survive this type of action, God Bless You!
Dad has always treasured the few items that made it back from the war with him. One item is a Nazi flag. I learned recently that this flag that my brother and I grew up playing with, has a lot of significance. It seems during the occupation of Germany soon after the fall of the Nazis, someone found a crate full of brand new red German flags with the white center circle and black swastika in the middle. Apparently those flags were distributed to the soldiers and a “signing party” ensued. I have attempted to identify the signatures of the men that signed my father’s flag to include with this writing. Several of the names and hometowns have faded into oblivion. The others I will list below. These were men who made it through to the end. Absent is the name of the men that fell along the way in the service of their country. I am sure that from time to time these men take these flags out and read the names and remember. The names of the men below are representative of the men that I grew up knowing as my uncles, schoolteachers, coaches, Sunday school teachers, businessmen, factory workers, and fathers of my friends and neighbors. Little knowing the sacrifice and hardship that they had seen as soldiers and sailors, they were unquestionably the men that shaped our world in the last half of the last century. I wonder if we (and future generations) are worthy replacements for them and if their contribution will ever be fully appreciated.
“The Dit Happy Kids” - 575th Signal Company
Charles E. Peters - Cleveland, Ohio
Joe Alexander - Hireville, Kentucky
Hank Greenberg - Brooklyn, Texas
Sal DeLorenzo - Brooklyn, New York
Johnny Cummings - Lewistown, Ohio
Bob Morgan - Aberdeen, Washington
Bob Gardner - St. Paul, Minnesota
Carl “Stub” Ely - Allentown, New Jersey
Bob “Poo Poo” Burkus - South Bend, Indiana
A. J. Koppenhauer - Valley View, Pennsylvania
J. E. Ross - Matley, Minnesota
Russell Patrick - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
William H. Robinhold - Philadelphia, Pennsilvania
Stanley Roak - Hendersonville, North Carolina
Eugene B. Dawson - Raleigh, North Carolina
Paul “Glow” Glowzenski - St. Paul, Minnesota
Tony A. (?) - New Britain, Connecticut
Paul V. Murray - Cambridge, Massachusetts
Elmer Eastburn - Springfield, Missouri
Tony (?) - Cleveland, Ohio
Conrad Deitz - Gleison, Wisconsin
Daniel R. (Bob) Shine
289th Infantry, 75th Infantry Division
(Written in collaboration with his son, Dan Shine)
The Last Furlough
They had grown up in poor and hungry times. They had come of age just in time to stand and fight the darkest threat of their century. In the process of this conflict, they would change the face of the world, and ultimately improve the lives of millions. Now it was time to go to war, and for many of these young men, there would be no coming home.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania
October 5, 1944
It was a hollow feeling that the soldier carried in his chest as the passenger train made its way westward from New York to Terre Haute, Indiana. The steam locomotive chugged rhythmically through the long, lonely night and in his sadness, he drifted in and out of a dreamless and melancholy sleep.
Somewhere behind the private was his home in Connecticut. He was destined for Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky. If he lived to return to the States, the opportunity to return home would not come again until the war was over. Private Daniel R. “Bob” Shine looked across the aisle at a sleeping GI. For that man the war was most certainly over, and he was on his way home-minus one leg. Shine wondered what kind of action that soldier had seen, and just how he had lost his leg, but knew he’d never be able to ask.
Shine closed his eyes and he could once again see the faces of his mother and father as he had left them. They were such gentle people; reluctant to part, they had followed him to the door. His mother Gertrude had tried to remain strong, but occasionally a tear would well up in her eye and roll slowly down her cheek. His father Dan had been an aviator with the famous “Hat in the Ring” squadron in WWI, and although he had mainly seen that war from the air, he had no misconceptions about what lay ahead for his son on the ground. Dan Shine had been in a quiet and somber mood for most of Bob’s furlough; about the only thing he had said was that he wished his son had been in some branch of service other than the infantry. Both father and son knew deep down inside themselves that this was destined to be a rough assignment. As he had walked off toward the railroad station, Shine had turned and waved them one final farewell, as they sadly watched his departure from their porch.
Clickety clack, clickety clack, clickety clack…the soldier looked out through the dirty window into the darkness; he felt a tightness forming in his throat, and a sudden burning in his eyes.
Shine had scored high on his induction tests and the army had made him part of the Army Specialists Training Program. While others had gone off to fight, his initial months in the army had been spent in college classrooms. After the massive losses of D-Day and the initial fighting in France, the army had recognized a shortage of riflemen and the ASTP program had been cut. Shine, and thousands of other “whiz kids” had then put away their books and had begun to learn the tricks of survival in the field and in combat instead. They took marksmanship practice, bayonet drills, endless long marches and river crossings, and one day they were ready to go and fight. There was a brief furlough and a last look at home-for many of these youngsters, it would be the last time their families would ever see them.
As a generation, they had certainly known hard times and adversity. Shine’s father had been fortunate indeed to have worked through most of the Great Depression, in a time when many men couldn’t find the jobs and wages to make ends meet. Now, on the verge of manhood, Shine and his contemporaries were called upon to defend the freedom of a people thousands of miles away.
While he was home, Shine had walked to the town rationing board to apply for extra food for his family. Food was rationed, shoes were rationed, even gas was scarce, but the family didn’t own a car, so that didn’t matter anyway. The lion’s share of all of these commodities was allocated to the military. As Shine walked home from the rationing board, he had noticed that most homes had a blue star in the window, signifying a family member in the service. He stopped short in front of a friend’s home and gazed in thoughtful surprise at the gold star in the window-which indicated that Shine’s friend had made the supreme sacrifice for his country. For him the war was over, too.
There had been rumors of German submarine activity in Long Island Sound, and at the entrance to New York harbor, so the lights in coastal towns were dimmed. This was intended to make it more difficult for the suspected submarine menace to strike at shipping. Automobile headlights were also dimmed, by coating the upper half of the lens with black paint. House windows were always shaded when the lights were on, and “blackout” tests were run frequently by the Civil Defense organization.
Several times during his two week furlough, Shine had taken a train from New Haven to Hartford to visit his girl Muriel who was a nurse at Hartford Hospital. There had been dinners, movies and long walks together. Now as he looked out of the dirty train window, he could imagine her sweet face looking back at him. Before their last parting, they had made promises to wait for each other, and marry after the war…”if I make it”, he thought to himself.
Finally, his two train rides were over, and Shine had returned to Camp Breckenridge. His brief days in civilian America were now just a memory. As he walked across the parade grounds toward his barracks, he could hear music drifting through the autumn night air. The tune was “It could happen to you”. Just what was it that could-and would-happen to him in the days to come? For now, he could only wonder.
Freedom. We cherish and abuse it. As Americans, we all enjoy our freedom, but relatively few of us have been called upon to defend it with our bodies and our lives. Seldom do we stop to think about the contributions and sacrifices of those Americans who have fought in past wars.
This, then, is intended to remind us of those unwarlike warriors who have fought under our nation's flag in the name of freedom. Further, it asks us to recall the contributions of those gentle infantrymen among them. Men like my dad.
A Different Kind of Christmas
Near Grandmenil, Belgium
December 25, 1944
Just after midnight...
Twenty year old Private Daniel R. "Bob" Shine squatted in a roadside ditch in knee-deep icy water, clutching his M-1 rifle; there was nowhere to go.
Moments before, he'd been advancing eastward with his rifle Company in near total blackness. From around a bend in the dirt road had come three tanks. As the tanks got closer, the G.I.'s had realized that they were facing German Tigers. The soldiers on the right had climbed an embankment and sought cover behind rocks and trees; for those on the left, the only available cover was a drainage ditch covered with ice. As they jumped into the ditch, the ice broke, soaking them.
In moments, the column of tanks began to advance again. What now? Would there be German infantry following? Shine thought of the previous Christmas he had spent at home with his family in Connecticut, and suddenly felt lonely and forsaken; would this be a slaughter? To his young eyes, the situation appeared hopeless.
Their landing in Europe hadn't been a dramatic one; Item Company, 289th Infantry had come to France on a troop ship, and docked at Le Havre. Their division, the 75th, was one of many that had been hastily formed for the final big push the Allies would make into Germany. The weeks that had followed their landing had been filled with long, monotonous autumn days, bivouacked in a muddy French meadow.
Then, on Christmas eve, without warning they had been loaded onto roofless semi-trailers. Packed too close to do anything but stand, the infantrymen had watched in amazement as their trucks roared eastward for four hours through the cold night, down the narrow dirt roads of France and then Belgium.
No one had told them what to expect; they had no idea of the massive German penetration of the Allied lines that was taking place. German tanks and infantry had, in a surprise attack, created a huge "bulge" in the American lines in the Belgian forest known as the Ardennes. The Battle of the Bulge had not even been named yet; but it was to be a widespread and bloody conflict, as Nazi Germany fanatically attempted a last breakthrough and the Allies fought desperately to hold onto their positions. At this moment, the 75th was headed directly into the path of the advancing 12th SS Panzer Division.
Shine estimated that they were speeding along the dirt road at about sixty miles per hour. Other vehicles on the road tried to make way for the convoy of trucks which were traveling through the darkness without the aid of headlights. If another vehicle failed to clear a wide enough path, it was smashed out of the way by the semis, which never even slowed down. The realization began to grow within Shine that something was seriously wrong wherever they were headed, and that they would be expected to help make it right.
The Allied generals had ordered the 75th to move up and relieve the 3rd Armored division. Outside of Grandmenil, the men of Item Company disembarked from their trucks and set out on foot toward the village. As they advanced, they were met by elements of the 3rd, who were retiring from the field.
"What's up this road?"
"Nothing. All clear!" Item Company moved forward, reassured. They advanced in two files, one along each shoulder of the road. Down the center of the road came the 3rd, who were pulling back to regroup. Shine's company passed troops moving toward the rear on foot, along with a number of Sherman Tanks, jeeps and halftracks. Some time after the last of the 3rd had passed through them, they saw three more tanks approaching, and hadn't recognized them as the enemy until it was too late.
It was almost 0100 hours, and Shine continued to crouch in the ditch. The Tiger had stopped firing now, and had begun to move toward their rear. When the Tiger was about 100 yards away, an American bazooka team fired one round into its radiator, disabling the tank. The other two tank crews, seeing the flash and the disabled tank blocking the road, turned and made for the safety of their own lines. The threat eliminated, Item Company re-formed on the dirt road and continued their march on Grandmenil. Shine's boots and wool trousers were now soaked, and would remain so for many days.
Throughout the early morning hours, the infantrymen marched up the snowy dirt road, through the forests of the Ardennes, and onward toward Grandmenil. Shine and his squad led the advance, marching warily forward with their rifles poised and ready for instant action. With the moon and starlight obscured by the heavy overcast, it would be nearly impossible to spot a dug-in enemy until they were almost on top of him. Such were their fears as they emerged from the sheltering woods and entered the fields surrounding Grandmenil.
The M-1 "Garand" rifles the infantrymen carried were a familiar burden on these marches. They weighed almost ten pounds, and quickly sapped the strength in the soldiers' arms. But the G.I.s loved their M-1s for their awesome firepower and deadly accuracy. The M-1's 30-'06 cartridges could propel a copper-jacketed slug through a tree and drop an enemy soldier hiding behind it, if such was necessary. To be among a rifle company firing M-1s in battle was truly a deafening experience.
At dawn on Christmas day, Item Company waited at the edge of Grandmenil, a village so small that it could be crossed by foot in less than five minutes--unless, of course the village was filled with waiting German soldiers--and it was. The task of liberating the village had fallen upon the Americans' young shoulders. As the soldiers waited for the order to attack, the Germans began an artillery barrage of their positions.
Item Company was to attack the village with the support of Sherman tanks. Two of Shine's friends huddled behind one of the tanks, seeking shelter from the German small arms fire that had just begun. As Shine watched, a shell landed and exploded near to the two and flung their bodies against the tank. They were killed instantly; there were almost no visible wounds, but the concussion from the explosion left the two dead Americans looking like lumps of bread dough thrown and flattened against a wall.
The Americans commenced their attack. The Sherman tanks advanced up the village streets first, firing their cannons point-blank into the occupied houses of Grandmenil. Then the riflemen followed. First they threw hand grenades into the houses; immediately after the explosions, they sprayed the insides of the houses with rifle fire, and then entered.
Shine and another young soldier entered one house. Inside the house, a dazed German reached for his gun. There was no time to ask him to surrender; the soldier with Shine quickly raised his Colt automatic pistol and fired. The .45 caliber bullet hit the German soldier squarely in the forehead, and the top of his head was blown completely off.
The Germans fought desperately; the Americans were forced to take Grandmenil one house at a time. As Christmas day progressed, many young Americans and Germans made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.
At day's end, Item Company had driven the Germans from Grandmenil, and had dug their foxholes in a defensive line along the edge of town. Twenty four hours earlier, none of them had ever seen battle; now they were veterans.
Christmas night would be another cold, cloudy night with temperatures below twenty degrees. The winter of 1944-45 would be remembered as the coldest winter in forty years, and the men of the 75th spent most of it outside, with frozen feet. As he settled down for his first sleep in two days, Shine became aware again of his feet, which were painfully cold. Funny, but he hadn't noticed them all day.
Behind him, Grandmenil's ruins smouldered and burned. Shine thought of his grandmother's hometown of Zell, in Germany's Moselle valley fifty miles to their east. He couldn't help but wonder if he had been fighting against any of his German cousins that day, or if he would face them on some future day.
They couldn't use their sleeping bags that night--"Purple Heart Bags" they were called. If the Germans counterattacked during the night, the Americans could be bayoneted in their bags before they could free themselves and reach for their weapons. So Shine and the rest of Item Company lay in the frozen earth, with their frozen feet and shivered themselves into a fitful sleep. A sleep filled with thoughts of those whom they had killed, and those friends who would never be going home; friends who now lay frozen on the snowy ground of Grandmenil.
And meanwhile, back at home, choirs were singing of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.
America! Christmas! As he drifted off to sleep, Shine wondered if he would ever see home again; indeed he wondered if he would live to see another Christmas.
Near Salmchateau, Belgium
1500 hours January 14, 1945
A young soldier cautiously approached Item Company's line of snowy foxholes as the afternoon sky began to darken. To the men nearby he looked like a rookie; he was clearly timid about entering this place of death and destruction. His uniform was still almost spotless. No doubt he'd been eating hot "C" rations and sleeping under cover right up until now.
They observed him casually. A battle veteran could usually tell whether a new man would crack under fire, just by looking at him, and you didn't want a guy to crack up while he was sharing your foxhole. This particular guy had a baby face, and probably hadn't even started to shave yet. He couldn't be more than eighteen. The occasional German mortar shell that fell nearby made him jump.
From his foxhole, Sergeant Gilbert spoke to the new private and pointed to an open spot in the line of foxholes. The replacement turned and made his way to the appointed spot. He leaned his M-1 up against a tree, and took out his entrenching tool. In moments, he was chipping at the frozen surface of the Belgian soil.
Over the next twenty minutes, the sounds of chopping and digging filled the air. Twice as he dug, the replacement slipped and almost fell into his unfinished foxhole. The men watched silently as he glanced around and tried to regain his dignity.
Finally, his hole complete, the replacement grabbed his rifle, climbed in, and took his position on the line. No doubt he was trying to figure out what would happen next.
He probably never heard the fluttering sound of the approaching mortar shell, but the men around him did, and they ducked deeper into their foxholes. An abrupt explosion shook the ground and threw bits of something through the air; there were the sudden smells of burned cordite and singed flesh.
The soldiers looked in horror at the foxhole of the new replacement. Smoke billowed out of it, and pieces of bloody flesh were everywhere. Tattered bits of his uniform and a length of intestine hung from broken tree branches above the burned foxhole, and next to the tree lay a boot with part of a leg still in it.
That was it, thought Private Daniel R. "Bob" Shine as he sat in his foxhole watching the day turn into night. One minute you're alive and all in one piece; the next minute you're gone and nobody has even had the time to find out who you were. And God knows where your dog tags were blown to... Although he and the other men had seen this kind of thing happen before, nobody ever really got used to it. Night fell, and it began to snow, masking the frozen pieces of what had once been a man.
In the early morning hours Item Company assembled for their attack of Salmchateau. Today they would be facing elements of the 326th Volksgrenadiers and remnants of the 62nd Volksgrenadiers.
Shine was the bodyguard to Lieutenant Rocco Durante. He and the lieutenant led their platoon through the snowy predawn darkness and the day's first light. As it became fully light, they left the forest and followed a dirt road into the village. This was usually the moment when things began to happen, and as the second man in the advancing column, Shine was frightened. As was often said, "Any man who wasn't frightened at these moments would have to be insane".
They had almost reached a bridge leading into town, when there was a sharp "crack" to their right front, and the lieutenant went down. Shine, following him about three paces back, rolled Durante over and saw a bullet hole cutting the lieutenant's belt loop just to the right of the belt buckle. As he took the lieutenant's pants down, he saw the point of the bullet just breaking the skin near the lieutenant's groin. Evidently the bullet had ricocheted off of a bone.
To remain stationary in a spot such as this was to invite disaster. Shine and the others moved forward, and left the lieutenant for the medical corpsmen who would be following.
To the foot soldier of WWII, nothing was more reassuring than the feel of an M-1 rifle in his hands. It promised power and accuracy at the squeeze of a trigger. It also promised to be a heavy burden on a long march. The M-1 rifle weighed almost ten pounds--about twice the weight of an M-1 carbine. In the infantry, enlisted men carried the rifles and officers carried the carbines.
Behind Shine, Private Krizan eyed the M-1 carbine dropped by the lieutenant. Like most riflemen, his arms ached from carrying the heavy rifle; here was something more attractive. He picked up the carbine and resumed his advance. That was the last mistake he ever made.
There was another sharp "crack" from the high ground on their right, and Krizan went down and rolled over on his back. Shine looked back at Krizan; he lay there with a neat little bullet hole right between his glazed eyes. Beneath his head, a crimson stain began to spread in the white snow. The sniper, seeing a carbine in Krizan's grip had mistaken him for an officer, and killed him.
About this time Shine figured his number was coming up. He ran and caught up with the squad as they prepared to clear the first house on their side of the street. Private "Snuffy" Toth went into the front door, fragmentation grenade in hand with pin pulled, threw the grenade and turned to get out. As he turned, he slipped on the ceramic tile floor and fell. Before he could get up the grenade exploded. Snuffy staggered out the door and went down again. He was badly shaken up, and the squad left him behind for the medics as they advanced through the town from house to house, clearing them as they went. Most of the Germans had fled. There was no further sniper fire, but still some incoming artillery and a few pockets of resistance from the houses.
Late in the evening, they found three or four Germans holed up in a cellar at the far edge of town. One of them made a menacing move and the three Americans facing them fired at once. The result was devastating.
Item Company spearheaded the attack on Salmchateau and won the town, thus meeting their objective. Their ranks had been thinned that day by deaths, wounds and frostbite cases. Snuffy Toth was finished as a front line soldier; the explosion of his grenade had left him shell-shocked. He was eventually evacuated. Lieutenant Durante was also evacuated, and they didn't see him again.
Shine's squad spent the night billeted in the stucco and stone houses of Salmchateau, while outside, the dead of both armies froze into grotesque positions. And as the dead and the living slept, once again it began to snow...
January 16, 1945
Private Daniel R. "Bob" Shine stared up at the snow-covered ridge in disbelief. This would surely be the end for him. The lieutenant's words rang in his ears, "When we charge the ridge, you three run straight for that big foxhole and knock it out."
Sheltered within the high foxhole were three German soldiers firing Schmeisser machine pistols down at the Americans. As the rifle company's first wave advanced up that ridge, it would fall upon these three young G.I.'s to eliminate that particular threat.
The three Germans seemed to have every advantage: they were elevated, they had adequate cover, and they all had rapid firing weapons. Shine could hear the Schmeissers distinctly now. They fired so fast that it sounded like cloth tearing. To charge straight toward that foxhole seemed practically suicidal.
Shine thought of his parents and his girl, Muriel back at home; how he wished he could see them all just one more time. Well, things at home would just have to go on without him, he guessed.
Shine took a moment to say a prayer for his survival in this assault. If he was to be hit, he hoped that the wound would be enough to send him home. If it was his fate to die on this day, he hoped the end would be quick and clean, and not a lingering death like so many he had seen. He couldn't help but wonder if God was listening to American or German prayers this day.
Before they had attacked the village of Salmchateau, the soldiers in Shine's squad had traded in their M-1 rifles for M-3 "grease gun" submachineguns which were useful for house-to-house fighting. The grease gun was capable of putting a lot of lead in the air, which was also good in times like this. Shine hated the grease guns however, because they had a deadly design flaw. The magazine release stuck out in a bad spot where the soldier often bumped it against his body, dropping the ammunition magazine on the ground at his feet. This left the G.I. with an empty gun, usually at the worst possible moment. Like right now.
At the signal, the three riflemen, along with the rest of the first wave were up and running at top speed, dodging left and right to evade enemy fire. Spaced just six feet apart, they made excellent targets for the Germans above them. Up the steeply sloping ridge ran the three, consumed by the noise and fury of war, and firing their weapons in short bursts as they ran. To the left and right, running soldiers suddenly fell, turning the snow bright red beneath them. At any moment, Shine expected to feel the sting of a bullet hitting him.
By the time the Americans had reached the foxhole, all three Germans had been hit. They lay in the snow, writhing and bleeding from ugly wounds, and making the strange noises that dying men make. A wounded German, however, could still shoot you in the back as you passed him. So, the three Americans, themselves miraculously unhit, finished the Germans off and continued their charge. On either side of them, other surviving members of the first wave advanced, some firing, some falling, as they closed in on their objective.
The Germans were driven from the ridge above Salmchateau that day, but the cost was dear. Many of Shine's friends in the company were killed, and many more were wounded. They'd all watched helplessly as their sergeant, Gilbert had bled to death after receiving a shrapnel wound in the back. The medical corpsmen and the riflemen in Gilberts' squad had tried to reach him, but were pinned down under heavy fire. So Gilbert had died, alone in the bloody snow.
They dug in on the ridge for another frozen night in the field. Salmchateau and "Bloody Ridge" as it would become known, were now in American hands.
Shine crouched in his foxhole and peered off through the darkness toward where the enemy must be. Somehow today, his number hadn't come up. The three Germans in that foxhole had been very young and inexperienced "Volkssturm" troopers, and not combat-hardened veterans. This stroke of luck alone had saved the three Americans, and had cost the three young Germans their lives.
But what of tomorrow, and the next day? Today he'd lost his sergeant. Yesterday, they'd evacuated his lieutenant, Durante to a rear area hospital after he was shot in the hip by a sniper. Just how long would Shine's own luck hold?
There were--and there would be--no medals for the three Americans who charged that foxhole; today had simply been business as usual. Nor would there be elation, nor remorse; just the weary realization that they'd survived another day, and were one day closer to the end of the war.
As the blackness of sleep met the blackness of the Belgian winter night, Shine, filthy, hungry, exhausted and frozen, prayed for his luck to hold just a little bit longer--and for the war to end before that luck ran out.