Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day, and I can't think of any better way to honor the people who served our country than to print my father-in-law's own words. He was interviewed recently because he is a WWII veteran. His comments appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, May 30, along with the stories told by other veterans.

Here is what he said.

Mine was one heck of a tour

I was inducted on Nov. 13, 1942. I was 20 then. My training was in the 11th Armored Division for light tanks. We were the 41st Tank Battalion, and I was a tech sergeant 4th grade.

We were trained to fight in Africa and then the desert. The locale of the fighting kept changing. We were finally shipped to Europe and landed in Liverpool in the fall of 1944 - just in time for the Battle of the Bulge under General Patton. We fought with what remained of the 101st Airborne, which had lost many men and were trapped in Bastogne.

My most vivid memories are of the intense, freezing cold of that winter, and the many lives that were lost. After the battle was over, we traveled through Germany and took 78,000 prisoners. We finally reached Czechoslovakia and liberated the prisoners still alive at Mauthausen concentration camp. The sight of dead bodies piled in heaps - and that of those still alive, wasted to skeletons - will remain with me forever.

Our division had seven battle stars gained in the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. I received a Purple Heart for injuries (sustained from barbed wire strung across roads and waiting for tank drivers like me).

I do have pleasant memories: the many friends made along the way; Bob Hope on one of his many trips to entertain the troops; and the small children who came to us for food and "gummy" (chewing gum).

Lawrence A. Momorella

Willow Grove

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