May 25 2015

“Hotshot”, War Hero

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forestMy son’s granddad, “Hotshot” or “Hots” (at left), was awarded a Silver Star after World War II. He fought in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge. My son wrote:

“Dad told me that when he and Hots were traveling across country sometime in the late 90s they were eating breakfast at some roadside diner somewhere in Wisconsin.  At that point Hotshot began to describe what was likely the circumstances surrounding the medal.

As you figured out, Hotshot was in charge of very large long range guns.  They were huge and unwieldy.  They were constantly getting hopelessly stuck in the mud while his superiors were imploring him in no uncertain terms to move faster.  There were forward observers who served as the “eyes” of the big guns.  These guys would forward coordinates back to those manning the guns.  If the shot missed, the forward observer would correct the coordinates and send them back to the guns for revised firing.

One night Hotshot’s battalion came under tremendous fire from the Germans (big guns).  The first barrage overshot them.  When another barrage fell just short, Hots knew that the Germans were “bracketing” him and that they were just about ready to have the shit blown out of them.  Before he had a chance to think another thought, they took a direct hit.  I can only imagine the force of it and what it did to him.

When Hots got up, he saw that every single person around him was dead.  It seemed that somehow Hotshot was the only survivor.  When he took another look, he noticed that there were other survivors.  He gave them orders to get up and man the freaking guns.  The remaining men were all terrified; shell shocked and whatever other descriptors you can come up with for their situation.  They would not or could not follow orders and get up.  Meanwhile they are still coming under heavy fire.  So Hotshot climbs up on the guns and begins the multi-person task of firing the big guns all by himself.  The old boy stood up there in the middle of all that and proceeded to fight the Germans single handedly.

That’s about all I know.  He didn’t tell anybody about it because he felt tremendous survivors’ guilt –he just wanted a nice quiet life.