17 November, 2011

17 November 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
17 November, 1944
Dearest Sweetheart –

A year ago today I was sailing away. I’d like to be sailing right back – and the sooner the better. It’s 1600 hours right now and I’ve just come into the Dispensary having been away all day today. The reason: I took a trip back to Liège, Belgium in an attempt to locate Frank Morse. I found him, too – and gee – it was swell seeing someone from home. I hadn’t seen him for about 13 months or so – the last week in September – over a year ago. There were about half a dozen other officers I know from Boston, also – and we had a good time reminiscing. I got there before lunch, ate with them and spent another hour or so there. Then I had to head back – because it was raining, the roads were slippery – and it gets dark so darned early.

Now I’ve got several things to take care of and that’s why I’m writing you a V-mail. Tomorrow, too I should be busy – I’m supposed to visit another battery for 3 days – but I think I’ll make some changes. I’ll write more tomorrow, darling, but for now, so long and

All my everlasting love
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about One of the Many


1st Lieutenant Bernard J. Ray
Company F, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
Bernard J. Ray, from Brooklyn, New York, was born on June 9, 1921. He gave his life in the Battle of the Huertgen Forest on 17 November 1944. For his heroism and his sacrifice, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Here is what happened, as written on the citation:
He was platoon leader with Company F, 8th Infantry, on 17 November 1944, during the drive through the Huertgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany. The American forces attacked in wet, bitterly cold weather over rough, wooded terrain, meeting brutal resistance from positions spaced throughout the forest behind minefields and wire obstacles. Small arms, machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire caused heavy casualties in the ranks when Company F was halted by a concertina-type wire barrier.

Under heavy fire, 1st Lt. Ray reorganized his men and prepared to blow a path through the entanglement, a task which appeared impossible of accomplishment and from which others tried to dissuade him. With implacable determination to clear the way, he placed explosive caps in his pockets, obtained several bangalore torpedoes, and then wrapped a length of highly explosive primer cord about his body. He dashed forward under direct fire, reached the barbed wire and prepared his demolition charge as mortar shells, which were being aimed at him alone, came steadily nearer his completely exposed position. He had placed a torpedo under the wire and was connecting it to a charge he carried when he was severely wounded by a bursting mortar shell.

Apparently realizing that he would fail in his self-imposed mission unless he completed it in a few moments he made a supremely gallant decision. With the primer cord still wound about his body and the explosive caps in his pocket, he completed a hasty wiring system and unhesitatingly thrust down on the handle of the charger, destroying himself with the wire barricade in the resulting blast. By the deliberate sacrifice of his life, 1st Lt. Ray enabled his company to continue its attack, resumption of which was of positive significance in gaining the approaches to the Cologne Plain.

Ray was buried in
Long Island National Cemetery
Farmington, New York
Ray's dog tag was found
close to this cross
in February of 2008

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