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A Few Lucky Breaks

A Few Lucky Breaks

 
My experience in the Battle of the Bulge will be a bit different than most.  Being wounded previously, I was transferred from forward recon and fire battery duty to service battery.  One of the many lucky breaks that seemed to follow me throughout our four major campaigns.
 
Captain Olson and I were on a Forward Observer post and caught in an 88 barrage.  We continued our fire mission.  I was slightly wounded and received the Purple Heart.  We both received the Silver Star. Captain Olson had saved my life with the words “Duck, Rizzio.”  A two inch piece of Shrapnel hit where my head was positioned.
 
As to the Battle of the Bulge, our battalion was settled down in a small French town of Merschweiller, east of Metz.Enjoying a break in the race across France, it seemed like the war was winding down.  Up north, things were starting to liven up.  Being on radio duty, I received the order around midnight on December 18th to move out.  It took us the rest of the night, the next day and the following night to reach the combat area of Stockem, Belgium.  What a drive and oh so cold.  Short on manpower, I was both radio operator and jeep-driver.  The only other person in the jeep was a newly assigned 90-day wonder, 2nd Lieutenant who never offered to relieve the driving on the entire trip.  Consequently, I fell asleep momentarily on the second night’s drive running off the road and into the bushes.  God knows what the results would have been if the bushes had not been there.  I have often though if I ever met this officer, it would be the right time for an ex noncom to tell an ex-officer what he really thinks of him.
 

M7B1 274th Armored F.A.Bn., close to Bastogne, 1st January 1945.

(http://ww2armor.jexiste.fr)

 
Our battalion was assigned to the famous 4th Armored Division as support artillery and started our fire mission at Martelange on the Belgium-Luxembourg border.
 
Christmas Day, our battalion fired 1,691 rounds of 105mm shells, the largest number to date.  I remember how bitter cold it was.  However, we did enjoy a complete turkey dinner as our mess truck caught up along with our Christmas mail from home.
 
General Patton visited our command post but I didn’t get to see him.  A few day later, the siege of Bastogne was broken.
 
My comment of a lucky break refers also to my transfer to Service Battery.  Had I remained as a Forward Observer or Fire Battery, I question being here today.  We suffered a good number of casualties.  At another time, I had a 88mm shell go under me and not explode.  Thanks to slave labor, it was a dud.
 
I knew we did not endure many of the hardships other units suffered especially the 101st Airborne and 28th Infantry Division.  None of us will ever forget those days.  The real credit goes to those stalwarts who held the line while reinforcements came from all directions.
 
Source:Bulge Bugle, November 1995
T/4 Richard RIZZIO

Battery "Service"

274th Armored Field

Artillery Battalion

3rd U.S. Army

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium