HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Seventy-five years after a surprise attack that launched the “Battle of the Bulge,” veterans still alive today are remembering the epic battle that changed the course of history.
This weekend, a congressional delegation is headed to Belgium to commemorate the battle CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
Eugene Leavy enlisted at 17 years-old, finding himself in the 100th Infantry Division in a battle that clinched victory over the Nazis in World War II.
“I just want everyone to understand the grain in the sand that I represented please think of all the guys who never even came home,” Levy said.
Around 19,000 of them never came home. The battle was a surprise attack by the Nazis and one of the bloodiest in our nation’s history. Six weeks of frenzied fighting in the forests of Belgium in blizzard conditions.
Young men like Leavy, outnumbered and ill equipped.
“You’re trembling… You’re trying to do something to stop shaking. You took a towel and used that as a scarf,” World War II historian Robert Scarbino said.
“These camps were not stocked for winter battle. They had a cotton uniform, there was no winter overcoats, nothing. Ammunition was at a premium.”
“The worst part is just being really, really frightening… We knew we were going into combat but we didn’t really know… I was so scared,” Leavy explained.
Congressman Tom Suozzi heading for weekend 75th anniversary ceremonies in Belgium and Luxemburg. He says now more than ever it’s important to remember the sacrifices made for democracy.
“It’s only because of their sacrifice that we have this system we have, but let’s not treat it so small and so dirty lets lift it up,” Rep. Tom Suozzi said.
Leavy, at 94 years-old, still drives, still pilots a plane, and still chokes up when he remembers the friends he lost.
“I came back with all my pieces intact and a number of my friends didn’t… Why him and not me?”
Leavy says he’s not a hero, the heroes were lost on the battlefield. It’s the price you pay he says for living in this country.
The Battle of the Bulge got its name because American lines bulged backwards but did not break. The attack began on Dec 16, 1944.