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67 Year Ago Today in Frozen Hell

Discussion in 'Open Discussion (Work-safe)' started by Gatorubet, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Gatorubet

    Gatorubet Loathing All Things Georgia

    My dad was contemplating his death. He was a tank commander in the 9th Armored Division, Combat Command B, stuck in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge, at a Belgian cross-roads town called St. Vith. Together with some stray 7th Armored tanks and tank destroyers, they formed a horseshoe (or goose-egg once they were completely surrounded) and, with other brave stragglers and infantry troops who narrowly avoided the mass surrender of US troops at the Schnee Eifel, fought off the German army at the important cross-roads town for a week.

    At 11:00 p.m. this night, my dad's unit was sitting there resigned, having been tolld that they would be guarding the retreat out of St. Vith. That meant almost certain death or capture, considering they were surrounded by German troops and armor. But as the ground had turned to mud because if the conditions (the tracks of the Sherman M4A3E8 "easy eight" he commanded could not support the tank in that condition), they had no choice. To his wonder- that very night - late - a cold front roared down from Russia, and froze the ground, which allowed his unit to move, and escape through the narrow path opened by the 82nd Airborne.


    M4A2 or M4A3 of the 7th Armored at St. Vith

    [ame=""]BATTLE OF ST. VITH - PART I - YouTube[/ame]

    [ame=""]BATTLE OF ST. VITH - PART II - YouTube[/ame]

    Now, my dad LOVED Christmas. More than most folks. One big reason was that he got to see Christmas 1944, which he never thought he would, and it meant something other than even the religious experience - or maybe all wrapped up I guess. I always toast Dad on this day for being saved, and if I every see a former or current All American Division member, their money is no good.


    (82 Airborne troops driving to relief of troops in the Battle of the Bulge)

    I thought about that this last week - and I remembered the name of the driver of my dad's tank, "Blondie". On a whim I looked up the name, which was a bit unusual...the only reason I remembered it. His first name was "Oakley". White pages searching found an elderly man supposedly living in Appalachia. Dad said that he was a great driver, an old moonshine runner, and had used four months in England to hot rod his Ford Engine powered Sherman. Dad claimed he could run away from a tiger faster than any tank in the First Army. At any rate, I called up 411 and asked for a number for that name near that town. I called the number, and an older woman's voice answered. "I'm looking for the family of a man named Oakley _ _ _ _ _ who was in a tank in the 9th Armored..." The lady cut me off politely with a, "You'd better ask him yourself....OAKLEY!!!"

    In a second a very sharp witted elderly gentleman came on the line. "Mr. Oakley, I am the son of Sgt. Ubet, a tank commander in the 9th Armored, and I was wondering if you are his driver he spoke of many times before he passed away?" Well, he started laughing, and told me that he was indeed that guy, that he really liked my dad, that "Sgt. Ubet would not let anyone promote me to another tank as a commander because my dad said he needed him too bad." That was fine with him he said, because he thought my dad "would get him home safe." He told of his working with my dad from 43 until, as he said, "We parked those Shermans in Czechoslovakia and walked away." We talked about them liberating a women's prison camp, and how angry they were at finding them almost dead from hunger. We talked about their first kill of a German Tank, about the 9th Armored taking the Remagen Bridge - and about how Blondie was the 4th US tank on German ground in WWII, a story my dad told me, but that I thought was artistic license, like a good fish story. Oakley told me that his tank pushed the concrete barrier away from the bridge road, so that a "couple slipped by ahead of us before we could go across". Dad walked in front of the tank guiding it, as the bridge had been partially blown and had holes in it. It later collapsed.

    It was a thrill talking with him about a week in Hell almost seventy years ago - sitting in the same tank in the freezing cold with my dad, waiting to die - but determined to make them pay to do it. We are exchanging pictures - and I am trying to get him and his family to be my guest in NO to see the WWII museum.

    So Good Night Oakley, and Happy to Be Alive December 23rd. Thanks for driving my dad to safety. Thanks for winning the war and fighting for our freedoms. And Merry Christmas as well, to all.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011
  2. muffler dragon

    muffler dragon Bien. Bien chiludo.

    Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.
  3. MD Buckeye

    MD Buckeye BP Soft Verbal Staff Member BP Recruiting Team Bookie Former BPCFFB II Champ Former FF League III Champ

    Great stuff Ubet and thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays to you & your family sir.
  4. Merih

    Merih GO BUCKS!

    Awesome, just awesome. I know first hand how cool it is to hear war stories from my dad. I'll never forget those nights.

  5. MaliBuckeye

    MaliBuckeye 1) Be A Man.

    GPA. Thanks, Ubet.
  6. MaxBuck

    MaxBuck 2014 National Champions!

    Ditto. Great stuff.
  7. localyokel

    localyokel Allergic to Kool-Aid

    It's great you were able to connect with your dad's driver. Terrific story.

    Perhaps it's because of the time of year, but I was deeply struck by how much these fellas:


    ...reminded me of these fellas:


    Merry Christmas.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011
  8. sparcboxbuck

    sparcboxbuck What happened to my ¤cash?

    If you get the chance, there is a BotB museum in Bastogne that you should see. Half of my fam is in Lux and while growing up I summered there every other year. A side trip that I've taken every time that I've gone since I was four years old includes that museum. For anyone with an interest or connection to the BotB, this place is a must see.

    Great story. Enjoyed it very much.
  9. Jake

    Jake They took the bar! ‘17 The Deuce Champ '18 The Deuce Champ Fantasy Baseball Champ

    Generation Y is so far removed from the time when America's freedoms were actually threatened it needs reminded by old timers who knew the people who risked their lives to protect us.

    Nice thread old timer, and merry christmas. :biggrin:
  10. Wells4Heisman

    Wells4Heisman Fifth Year Freshman

    Thanks for sharing Gator!
  11. CentralMOBuck

    CentralMOBuck Senior

    GPA! Love a good WWII story. Tell this man buckeyeplanet thanks him for all that he has done!
  12. cincibuck

    cincibuck You kids stay off my lawn!

    Glad to see you got a buckeye leave for your bit of history. I had three uncles nearby, Raymond with the 99th Infantry, Cliff with the 75th Infantry, both on the north shoulder of the breech and Bobby with the 59th Armored Artillery Bn, attached to the 82nd on the south. I've been to St. Vith's and it's importance in terms of terrain is obvious. Bless 'em all and bless Blondie.

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