By 1st Lt. Sean Cicogna, 404th AFSBOctober 26, 2016
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Over thirty veterans of the 1944 Battle of the Bulge toured the 404th Army Field Support Brigade's Regional Logistical Readiness Center here, Oct. 6.
The visit was part of the organization's annual reunion that brings together the surviving veterans of the battle; this year's reunion was held in Seattle, Washington and JBLM.
Col. Sydney Smith, commander, 404th AFSB, whose father served in the Battle of the Bulge, greeted the veterans.
The visiting heroes were shown the inside of the Stryker Fighting Vehicle and given a demonstration and explanation of the equipment's operations and capabilities. The veterans, all between the ages of 90 and 95, quickly accepted an opportunity to climb inside the vehicles.
"He showed me the inside of the vehicle and told me about the equipment, most of which went over my head, but I pretended I knew what he was talking about," said Fred Gordon, who served in the Battle of the Bulge with the 9th Armor Division. "It's incredible how advanced things are, and we thought we were advanced in 1942."
Prior to 1943, Gordon's unit, the 9th Cavalry Division stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, was comprised entirely of horse-mounted troops. It was not until then that the famous "Buffalo Soldiers" finally retired their horses and were refitted with mechanized vehicles before deploying to Europe.
The Battle of the Bulge was Germany's last major offensive during WWII. Over 400,000 German soldiers assaulted Allied Forces in Belgium and Luxembourg on December 16, 1944.
Veteran Tom Ingram of the 90th Infantry Division's "Tough Hombres", and a peanut farmer from Alabama, said that temperatures at times had fallen as low as twenty degrees below zero. Describing some of the fiercest moments of the fight, Ingram recalled a point at which he became the target of four German tanks only forty yards from his position.
"I was 18 (or) 19 years old," he said. "Wasn't old enough to buy a beer, wasn't old enough to vote, but I was old enough to die for my country."
Ingram is now 91 years old and has been honored with the Purple Heart and two Bronze Star Medals for his service in WWII.