For those who made it back, and those who didn't
LETTERS HOMEn John Thrash sent this photo of himself taken in Czechoslovakia during World War II to his father. On the back of the photo is a message to his family, "I am in combat dress here. This was made V.E. Day, but we have just now made them. My buddies have set up a developing lab." Submitted photo.
By John Thrash/Special to the Star
March 17, 2001
I arrived in England on May 25, 1944, and was assigned to Company G, 357th Infantry. It was a part of the 90th Infantry Division. I served with this 357th Infantry through the Normandy Invasion, Northern France, Ardennes that's where the Battle of the Bulge was Rhineland and Central Europe. I received five battle stars for these five campaigns as a light machine gunner.
I was wounded at Mont Castre, better known as Hill 122. I caught a German bullet in my right hip and side. I was presented the Purple Heart for that wound.
As the Battle of the Bulge started, I was with Patton's Army and we went into Bastogne (Belgium) to stop the Germans. We were in a holding position at Metz, France, and when the battle started, they rushed everybody they could into this bulge.
I served during the Battle of the Bulge campaign with frozen feet. I don't even remember leaving the line. I remember days on the line there, but I don't remember being taken off.
I woke up in a hospital in England, and I was sent back to the line as soon as I was able. I was still fighting with this same outfit in Czechoslovakia when the war was declared over on May 9, 1945.
Serving my country in Company G of the 357th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Division under Gen. George S. Patton was a memorable experience in itself. I served with some of the greatest soldiers that ever wore the U.S. uniform who referred to me as "Mississippi."
I'm a member of the Mississippi Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. At this time, we're down to about 60 members because we are dying real fast. I wanted to see this finished before I died because there were numerous divisions involved 36 infantry divisions, 18 anti-aircraft battalions, 11 field artillery units, nine combat engineer groups and three evacuation hospitals plus signal battalions, chemical mortar groups and liaison groups.
I'm the baby of the bunch because I'm 75 years old, and I was 18 or 19 years old when the Battle of the Bulge started, but we have people who are 80 and 90 years old. The oldest one I know of is 90.
It's been emotional working it up. I've been well-wished since we started this. People respect veterans. I was in five major battles and I'm here today. I made it through it by the grace of God.
They have great American cemeteries with American soldiers buried there where the battle was. Gen. George S. Patton, who was so famous and so great, asked to be buried there with them, and he has been. This is for the people who deserve it. I was there, but a lot of people didn't make it back.