Battle of Bulge Heroes Demonstrated Age-Old Army Values
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
CLERVAUX, Luxembourg, Dec. 15, 2004 The courage, determination and patriotism demonstrated by U.S. soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge are the same qualities exhibited throughout the Army's history and among today's soldiers, an Army official told veterans gathered here today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the battle.
Daniel Denning, principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, thanked about 100 veterans of the Battle of the Bulge for their "sacrifice and courage under incredibly difficult conditions."
In December 1944, Clervaux was the headquarters of the 28th Division's 110th Regimental Combat Team, which made what Denning called "a valiant stand" that slowed the Germans' advance toward Bastogne.
By driving forward with their mission despite being heavily outnumbered and unprepared for the "the coldest and snowiest weather remembered in the Ardennes," Denning said veterans of the Battle of the Bulge continued the tradition begun by the beleaguered American soldiers at Valley Forge.
Denning told the veterans the history books don't completely capture the story of what the veterans endured at the Battle of the Bulge. They don't tell about the nights shivering in the cold, with soldiers' hands almost frozen to their weapons, with wet boots and cold K rations, he said. Similarly, they don't explain the bitter desperation of this battle and the unbelievable tenacity of the combatants.
"The Nazi attack and the frigid weather were some of the toughest conditions endured by the American Army," Denning told the group.
Denning said victory at the Battle of the Bulge isn't a story of the success of American arms. It's a story of "values of the soldiers, commitment to freedom, courage, duty and determination that made these men great," he said. "When they were surrounded and facing what must have seemed like certain defeat, they stood their ground and did their duty," he said.
Denning's father, Pvt. Daniel Burke, was among the heroes of the Battle of the Bulge. Burke, who served with the 84th Infantry Division, had been assigned to a replacement depot in Holland when the Germans launched their surprise attack on Dec. 16, 1944. He and his fellow soldiers rushed in to help hold the northern shoulder of the "bulge" in the U.S. lines until they were relieved in Bastogne, Denning said.
One month after the Battle of the Bulge, Burke was killed in Dovern, Germany, during 9th Army's push through the German's Siegfried Line meant to halt the Allied advance into Germany. His unit's mission was to attack across the Roer River and swing toward Koln, Denning said.
Denning, who was just 4 months old when his father died, said he and his 84- year-old mother, Frances Burke Denning Miller, plan to visit his father's grave in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Holland, during the 60th anniversary commemoration.
He said it's important to honor the veterans of the battle and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to end the spread of Nazism in Europe. In doing so, he said they helped uphold the Army's proud tradition and set the example soldiers continue to live up to today.
Denning said the what became "common virtues" among soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge have become "the hallmarks of the values our Army today upholds and has upheld for over 229 years."