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Remember Bastogne

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Letter to the Editor
Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Battle of the Bulge took place during the second half of December 1944. The Screaming Eagles of our 101st Airborne and an artillery division were surrounded at Bastogne near the Belgian/German border. Our men had to dig holes in the snow to sleep for the night. Those who lived woke up in the morning and crawled out. Their feet were turning black, but they had to hold their position on the front line.

A German messenger delivered a letter to our officers in Bastogne, demanding our surrender or the whole town, including women and children, would be shelled. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe's initial answer was “Nuts!” The officers would not surrender, but did not know how to respond. One junior officer told him, “I liked your first response.”

“What was that?”

The junior officer told him, “You said, ‘Nuts.'”

When the German messenger returned to his headquarters, his officers read our response: “To the German commander, from the American commander, NUTS!” The Germans could translate our message, but did not understand it (peanuts? cashews?). What it meant was we were not going to budge nor surrender. We were making a stand at Bastogne.

I wonder how many of our young people know what these brave men did for our freedom during the Christmas season of 1944. May we always remember our brave heroes of Bastogne.

Dan Manka

Fairmont, W.Va.

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