“Was it like the old war movies?” Veterans share their stories of WWII



It was the middle of the workday last fall when a colleague brought a gentleman to my office and introduced him to me as the past president of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.  Retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Dillard sat down across from me and we spent some time chatting.

For as large as the military can be, I find that it can also be a small world.  Douglas Dillard had fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, in Korea and Vietnam and retired as a colonel.  So had my grandfather.  He was Airborne and worked in intelligence.  So did my husband.

Before Col. Dillard left that afternoon, I introduced him to some of the members of our team at work – younger Veterans who spent time in combat as well.  After he left, the team talked about how we could share his stories, and their stories, with other Veterans. That’s how Living History got its start.

Living History: Battle of the Bulge is the first of what we hope will be a series of interviews with Veterans of all generations on their experiences.  The Battle of the Bulge web series will be released in four parts – here on the Vantage Point blog, and VA’s social media channels, including YouTube and Facebook.

December 16, 2014, to January 25, 2015, was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. For many of its Veterans, talking about what happened wasn’t something they did with anyone other than their battle buddies, if even then.  By bringing together Veterans from the same conflict, we explore with them what happened – the bad and the good – that shaped the rest of their lives.

The crew and Veterans features in VA's web series Living History: Battle of the Bulge.

The crew and Veterans featured in VA’s web series Living History: Battle of the Bulge. Photo by Robert Turtil, VA.

Our four Veterans in Living History: Battle of the Bulge met in November 2014 in the WWII History Room at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Surrounded by personal artifacts, uniforms and military memorabilia, they reminisced about their younger days and the brutality of the Ardennes campaign. It was an honor for me to guide the discussion that day, and it is an honor for me to introduce the first of four videos to you now.


Living History: Battle of the Bulge was produced with the assistance of The Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, a membership organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the sacrifices involved during the Battle of the Bulge. To learn more about the Battle of the Bulge, its living Veterans and preserving the history and memory of the battle, visit the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge website.

Special thanks to the band Carbon Leaf for allowing us to use their song “The War Was in Color” as the opening theme for Living History: Battle of the Bulge. Thanks, also, to Synthesis Production for the use of their footage from the December 2014 reenactment of the battle in Recogne, Belgium.

 

 

Author

Megan Moloney

— Megan served at VA from May 2013 to July 2018. She is the daughter, granddaughter and spouse of Army and Navy Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comments

  1. Randall Coleman    

    My grandfather was over there. It was very painful for him to talk about. It got to where my father would pick at him for not talking about it. One day my grandfather decided to indulge my father. He told him some of the worst stories I have ever heard. He and my father where in tears. I don’t really think we as Americans understand what these men sacrificed for us to be free. Thank you paw paw for what you did for me. Thank you to all the veterans for what you did for our country.

  2. Al Perry    

    I think we need more stories like this to remind the people the sacrifices our veterans have offered. To inspire and create a feeling of patriotism!

  3. Nancy Clark    

    Please consider sharing this and other stories with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project: http://www.loc.gov/vets/

  4. Kenneth C Berry    

    Being outside for days in the winter was bad enough but having thousands of people
    trying to kill you on top of it made it even worse. Good Job, fellas.

  5. Ana Cuebas    

    Disseminated as wide as possible.

Comments are closed.