One Soldier’s Story:
This morning, my wife proudly handed me a copy of her father’s Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Army. As I read through it, I learned that Cecil V. Crabb Jr. had served with the 75th Division Artillery during World War II, and that he had fought in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. Fortunately, he received no major wounds during those actions, returned home after the war, was married, became a college professor at LSU and raised two wonderful, successful children.
Looking back on his time in the Army now, it easy for us—his family— to see exactly what he was fighting for. The 6-foot, 19-year old kid from Mississippi who looked like a young Desi Arnaz, was putting his own young life on the line so that FUTURE generations would be able to grow up FREE and not under the yoke of tyranny.
Unfortunately, my heroic father-in-law is no longer with us. But before his passing, I was able to get him to open up a little bit about his time in the Army during the war. As with many veterans, he was reluctant to discuss his battlefield experiences, which, even after over 50 years, clearly still held painful memories that were terrible to contemplate and recollect.
However, sensing my sincere interest, he did relate a few interesting facts to me. First, I learned that he was very proud of his particular unit’s firing accuracy. I remember he told me that his firing team could quickly “zero-in” a target’s location and then land multiple projectiles right on top of it with devastating results. According to Crabb…
“Once we knew where the Germans were, it was all over for them. We could hit a target as small as a Volkswagen with pinpoint accuracy.”
Of course, if you remember anything about the terrible 1944 engagements collectively known as the “Battle of the Bulge,” you know that conditions at that time were miserable for American and Allied troops. As with Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War, the U.S. Army found itself facing not just the enemy, but freezing cold, constant snow and severe shortages of food, fuel and ammunition. Thrown up against massive columns of Panzer tanks during Hitler’s last major offensive, American troops soon found themselves outgunned and overwhelmed.
Crabb recalled how his own unit’s position was suddenly overrun by quick-moving German troops and how the battle-lines “see-sawed” back and forth throughout the forests. The Nazis pushed on with a deadly phalanx of Panzers, forcing Crabb’s unit to constantly reposition its battery or seek protective cover wherever it could be found.
He said he remembered the Germans approached so close one day he could see them up against the treeline, and then…he decided to stop talking. He just stared ahead in silence. Obviously, I know he wasn’t killed, captured, or wounded, but whatever else happened to his group of men on that fateful day in the Ardennes, I’ll probably never know. I didn’t press him any further, and he never spoke about World War II to me again.
Still curious, I looked further down on his discharge certificate to find he had received the Victory Medal, the American Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the European and African Middle-Eastern Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars. Very revealing and inspiring.
Of course, we’re all very proud and thankful for our particular family member’s service to our country, as we’re sure you are of yours. So please take a moment today to thank a veteran (ANY veteran), proudly fly your flag, and send up a prayer of thanks to all who’ve served.
We here at The Joe Report would like to wish all past, present and future military servicemen and women a happy Veterans Day. You’re all the GREATEST!