Archive for December 26th, 2008

Footprints in the E.T.O.

Footprints in the E.T.O.

Over Christmas, Dad let me see this map that was put together for a war reunion that Grandpa attended.  It highlighted where his unit has been and what they did.  I took lots of photographs, and was woefully aware of both my lack of excellent equipment (it’s a good little camera, but not amazing) and my lack of great skill with my camera.  I hope there are decent shots.  I’ve got them posted here so you can see where I tried to get better details with various flash and closeness settings.  Dad still has the original, so maybe we’ll get a better copy one of these days.

Here’s a link to a list of units involved in the Battle of the Bulge.  Grandpa’s group (778th A.A.A. Battalion was with the 76th Division – so you can scroll down and see it listed).  A.A. was anti-aircraft.  I’m not sure what the last A is for.  I suppose when all is said and done I will have expanded my WWII knowledge exponentially.  My last history class that would have covered this would have been sometime near about 20 years ago . . . sigh.

Ooh – here’s an excellent link that I’m just going to have to spend more time with.  It’s nearly bedtime, so it’ll have to wait.  This link is http://www.antiaircraft.org/778.htm which has the history of the 778th AAA Battalion.  I can’t believe I’m excited about military history!  The times – they’re a-changing!  I guess when it gets personal it makes all the difference.

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From 1st Lt. Dewain Silvester 0-1050923
A.P.O. 655 c/o Postmaster
New York, New York

To: Mrs. Dewain Silvester
Box 11,
Parker, Idaho

Luxembourg, 26 December 1944

Precious Little Family,

This is letter number fifteen, I think.  Anyhow, darlings, please be well and happy right now and love me lots.  Was your Christmas nice?  Did it snow?  Did you get anything from your old man?  What did you get?  What did everyone get?  I was thinking of you so hard when you should have been eating Christmas dinner.  You could never imagine what I was doing.

As you see, your old man has been getting around a little.  No mail or word as yet.  It’s good I had too little time to worry.  Have you been getting a trickle of letters from me?  I surely hope so.  Darling, you ‘ll never know how terrifically much I love you.  You’re so doggone wonderful.

Have the folks been over recently?  How is everyone?  Are you kept pretty busy?  Be sure to take good care of yourself.  These letters must be a disappointment to you, sweetheart.  Can you forgive me.  As time permits, I will do better.  Never forget how terribly much you mean to me.

Yours, Dewain

There is so much unsaid in this short V-Mail.  I wonder where Grandpa was – in a tent or a Quonset hut, a proper building, or even outside somewhere.  It was winter, in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge, which I know little about in my dusty memory.  My dad (Happy Birthday – you’re born by now, even if Grandpa didn’t know it yet) gave me a book to read called “The Longest Winter” by Alex Kershaw.  It’s subtitled “The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II’s Most Decorated Platoon” (which isn’t Grandpa’s platoon – but they were out there, too).  I haven’t started it yet . . . but  hope to get some back story knowledge to supplement my letters here.

By December 26th, my Dad, baby Rick, was 4 days old . . . I wonder how grandma was feeling, and how much of Christmas dinner she was interested in, and how tired she was.  There’s so much left to imagination and my knowledge and personal experience.

Hope everybody had a warm and quiet Christmas, even as we remember Christmas 64 years ago.

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