December 17, 1944 was the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, Nazi Germany’s last ditch counter-offensive to stave off defeat in Western Europe at the hands of the Allies. The early days of the offensive were marked by rapid gains by the enemy and stalwart, heroic defenses by the besieged Americans in their path. Three soldiers of the United States Army‘s 2nd Infantry Division were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courage that day.
They were Private First Class Richard E. Cowan, Sergeant José M. López, and Private First Class William A. Soderman.
Continue reading Second to none: Cowan, López, & Soderman (December 17, 1944)
Thomas Vernon McGarity was born in Right, Tennessee on December 1, 1921. He was drafted into the United States Army on November 24, 1942, one week before his twenty-first birthday. He was eventually assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, part of the 99th Infantry Division.
The 99th was one of the wartime divisions made up largely of draftees. They trained extensively stateside, and were deployed for combat in Europe on September 30, 1944. They arrived on the front lines in Belgium on November 9th. The “Battle Babies”, as the 99th became known, probed Nazi German defenses until December 16, 1944, when the enemy counterattack later known as the Battle of the Bulge began.
Continue reading Technical Sergeant Vernon McGarity, USA (December 16, 1944)