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Friday, June 02, 2017

A SPECIAL PRIDE!

Way back in December of 1944, in the Belgium forest of the Ardennes, the Germans threw the dice one more desperate time in hopes of turning the tide of war in their favor. Under fog and dense humidity of the December days before Christmas, they launched their attack to split the allies in half and separate the Americans in the south from the British in the north. The idea was to drive all the way to Antwerp and capture the major supply port that fed the Allied advance toward Germany. With only a limited amount of fuel, just enough to make the push in one sweep, this was a huge gamble.

The Germans were banking on the surprise and timing of the attack as their only hope of success. The weather was their ally in that there would be no air support for the Americans because of the thick cloud cover.

On the American side stood a corporal, one Daniel Tria who had joined the US Army and was in direct line of the enemy’s attack, unaware that anything was coming to this position of R and R.
Like most American soldiers, he dreamed of being home for Christmas on this December 16th morning. That dream was shattered in the early morning dawn when the forest and town around him suddenly erupted into thunder and lightning, the ground shaking in front of him the mass confusion of war turned the dream into a vivid nightmare.

His confusion led to his deciding he needs to seek refuge and load his rifle, that this day may be his last. Digging into the muddy ground, he prayed and wondered, when he heard the sounds of the dreaded dual-tracked monsters, the tanks. The Germans were attacking a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions that grounded the Allies' overwhelmingly superior air forces. Fierce resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive, and in the south, around the crossroads of Bastogne, blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success. Columns of armor and infantry that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads. This, and terrain that favored the defenders threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops.

In the nightmare of the initial attack, Danial Tria was seriously wounded in his right leg, a shell exploding from the distant artillery and was knocked off his feet. The German army with their mechanized vehicles rolled through the lines and started to capture many American soldiers in the beginning of this offensive. Daniel Tria lay in his foxhole, wounded and unable to get up and walk, trapped behind enemy lines! In the confusion of battle, with his rifle the only source of protection, he crawled through enemy lines, carefully plotting his every move, from tree to bush to hole, from outhouse to barn to a farm house. Over the course of many days and much pain and danger, exposed to the growing cold and snowy weather, hungry and exhausted, he finally reached the American’s as they gallantly withstood the German onslaught and that would turn the tide enough where the Germans were unable to wage war again in an offensive capacity.

While these brave men hung on, refusing to surrender, to the south another corporal, Frank Corace was heading north in the middle of the night to relieve the Americans at Bastogne under the command of General George S. Patton. A man of quiet courage and bound by duty, little did Frank know he was relieving his cousin Daniel Tria.

Both Daniel Tria and Frank Corace were uncles of mine, One, Daniel because of his wounds, was sent back to the States forever in pain with a cane to support his mobility. There was a big story about him with pictures of him recuperating in a field hospital in the New York Daily News, while Frank Corace continued on his way to the final chapters of WWII in Germany, a hero just like his cousin without fanfare.

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