Remembering the Bulge

Donald D. Jaquish, 2nd Infantry Division


     Donald D. Jaquish also had first-hand experience with the tough conditions in the snow-covered Ardennes. He joined the Army on June 27, 1944, when he was just 19 years old. He served in Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, US First Army. He joined his company as a replacement on December 25, 1944, when the Battle of the Bulge was entering its second phase. After fighting through the snow for three days, his company was reduced to just 27 men. As Don explains, his most memorable experiences include witnessing the night strafing of the Remagen Bridge. To this day, he hasn’t forgotten the horrors the soldiers lived through fighting in the snow-covered Ardennes. He shared the following with us:

     “Early one cold morning we were fighting through the Monschau Forest in our attempt to drive the German army back out of the ‘Bulge’ created by their breakthrough in December 1944. I volunteered to be first scout during the first drive through the Ardennes. I was lead scout when a German machine gun sprayed our company with a hail of bullets.

     “We hit the ground, looking for a slight depression in the terrain that would protect us from the next volley of machine gun fire. After lying in the snow a few minutes we were told to advance. We were machine-gunned again. A sergeant behind me had knelt down to reload his rifle and took a bullet through his back. I crawled back and opened his clothes to place a bandage around him. I crawled back to our medic… and wrapped up his leg with another bandage. I couldn´t help but remember Psalm 91:7 – ‘A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand …’ I learned later that our medic was all right, but two days after the sergeant was hospitalized, he died.”

Jaquish now lives with his wife on a farm in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. They returned twice to Europe to revisit the battle sites, from Elsenborn, Belgium to Plzen, Czechoslovakia – where he arrived with his regiment in May 1945. He stays busy at home, caring for his house and farm, and is also quite involved with his church and jail ministry – but his memories of the war are constantly with him.

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