Many incredible WWII US Signal Corps photos were taken during the war, printed, examined and never widely published or circulated. In tonight’s post, I’m bringing one of these “lost” Signal Corps shots to the world wide web. Jack was a paratrooper assigned as a light machine gunner to Company G of the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne Division. Jack was captured on his 20th birthday during the Battle of the Bulge on January 7th, 1945 in a small village twelve miles outside Bastogne; known as Dead Man’s Ridge, the battle was the first for the green 17th Division. Suffering catastrophic casualties, the 17th was eventually successful in countering the German troops it encountered. Spending nearly a month in captivity (being wounded during this time) Jack escaped and was picked up by elements of the 4th Division. The photo below perfectly captures how Jack must’ve felt during the hell of the Bulge and his time imprisoned with the Germans. Note the dirt and grime on his face and clothes, the stubble and long hair associated with being constantly on the move without access to a razor or washcloth. He’s also sporting a captured German officers cap with the eagle removed. I’m hoping Jack took that hat home as a momento of his time in captivity!
Jack’s National Archives and Records Administration file:
Jack was born in January 7, 1925 and spent his youth in Lucerne, PA. He was volunteer for the Army in January 7, 1943 and was inducted on February 20, 1943 at Altoona, PA. He received ASN 33573517 and was sent to the 44th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, WA. He was volunteer for the Airborne troops and was transferred to Parachute School at Fort Benning in March 1944 where he was finally assigned to Company G / 513th PIR as light machine gunner after having successfully completed his paratrooper course.
On January 7, 1945, on his 20th birthday, he was captured at Flamierge during the terrible battle of “Dead Man’s Ridge”. He was sent to Clervaux, then to Prüm. He was wounded at Garolstein, Germany and escaped the Germans on February 7 with Ed SUMMERS. They reached Prüm on February 9 and went into hiding until the town was taken by the men of the 4th Infantry Division on February 13.
He spent two weeks in hospital to recovering from malnutrition and was unable to return in his unit because of Prisoner of War status. He was finally shipped back to States in March 1945 and completed military as automatic weapons instructor at Fort Benning. He was discharged in November 1945 as S/Sgt.