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Saved by German Medal

Saved by German Medal

 
In Luxembourg mid-morning December 24, 1944
 
It was a sunny day and our Company “F” was on the road to take over positions of the 4th Infantry Division, 12th Infantry Regiment.
 
My platoon was bringing up the rear on a paved road in the mountain area.  The Germans opened fire on us on our left from the woods.  My squad leader, Dengel, headed for a bolder down a slight slope.  As first scout, I was behind him.  While behind the boulder someone hollered, “Dengel take your squad around the left flank.”  I tried to determine whose voice it was as I was sure we didn’t have a platoon officer or platoon sergeant with us.  I started to move because I heard so many times, “scouts out, Jackson.”  Something in my head said check your rifle and make sure you have a full clip.  As I did, Dengel moved out in front of me and a German behind the boulder shot him with a burp gun.  It spun him partly around.I dropped down and crawled backwards to go around the other side of the boulder to shoot the German.
 
As I was crawling, my heart started beating hard.  I looked and realized I was over a camouflaged foxhole.  In inched backward and with one hand lifted a limb of a branch and a German lifted it up with both hands.  He had a blood spot on his nose between his upper life.  I figured that took the fight out of him.  I motioned for him to go to the road.  I continued to crawl to the other side of the boulder.  There was a mound of dirt there that was from the foxhole.  I kneeled behind the mound and about ten yards in front; I saw a German run from right to left.  I shot at him.I started shaking my head as my ears felt stopped up.  Many, many years later, I realized that the bullets were causing the feeling.
 
Then a bullet hit me on the left side of my chest.  It knocked me back on my heels.  I could feel the blood and pain.  I dashed up the road and could see puffs of dirt as I did.  I figured they were shooting at me.  I heard someone holler, “Jackson’s hit.”Dawdle, our medic, started cutting through my jacket, sweater and shirt with his scissors.  My dog tags fell out and I reached out and grabbed them, fearing that if I died without them nobody would know my name.  Dawdle poured some sulphur powder on it and patched it up.Dawdle told me to go to the aid station.
 
I started walking back the way we came, hoping to find an aid station.  Someone hollered, “Take this prisoner with you.”  As we were walking, I was in a hurry to find the aid station.  I told the prisoner in German to move faster.  He said, in German, “I don’t understand.”  I told him or asked him in German, “Do you understand shooting.”  He said, “Ya” and I told him faster in German.  He was around 40 years old and I figured he didn’t want to take orders from a 19-year-old.  As we walked, I heard someone holler, “Where are you going with that prisoner?”  Across the road under a cliff was a lieutenant colonel with about eight prisoners.  I left the prisoner and thought – we’re up there fighting and he’s back here guarding prisoners.
 
I kept walking and looked across a field and saw an ambulance and some buildings.  I walked over and into a small one-room shack.  There were two doctors treating two or three wounded soldiers.  I noticed along the wall there were cartoons of blood plasma and most of the bottles were busted from the cold weather.  As I waited, the door opened and they brought a soldier on a stretcher.  I looked and it was a soldier from my squad with his guts handing out.  I walked outside and sat down on the ground and thought – what am I worried about.  The soldier was elderly when he us recently.  He told me had been a ground observer with the air force.  He also told me he was a half-brother to Jack Benny.
 
I lit a cigarette and a German prisoner came over and motioned for a cigarette.  I motioned him away.  Years later, I regretted not giving him a cigarette as he could have shot me in the back.  I recognized him as the one I routed out of the foxhole.
 
I went inside and the doctor looked at my wound and called the other doctor over who I thought looked as if it was his first day there.  He was told it was a “lucky wound or something to that effect.”  The doctor put a patch on it and have me a “blue hornet” which we called a sleeping pill and told me to go back to my company kitchen and take it.
 
I walked further back and saw a barn and our kitchen was inside.  I talked to one of the cooks and showed him the pill and asked him where I could go after taking it.  He pointed to the jay loft.  I went up the ladder and slept through Christmas Day.  The evening of the 26th, I was told that in the morning of the 27th, I was going back to my squad before daylight.
 
Some month earlier, back in France, as some of us were standing around, one guy said he was pinning a German medal on my chest.  “This is for bravery” or something to that effect, he said.  The ribbon was a littler larger than say, our Good Conduct Ribbon and had a pair of miniature crossed swords on it.  When I looked at some time later and saw one edge bent, I realize that it had deflected the bullet and saved my life.  I think was a German cavalry ribbon.
 
I was evacuated to England later in February, 1945, and in a repos depot tent, I laid it on a table beside my bunk and someone stole it.
 
Source: Bulge Bugle May 2009

 

By George H. JACKSON

"F" Company

2nd Infantry Regiment

5th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge, Belgium