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Philip Lee … wartime experiences

Bernadine Hughes Neligh, Neb.
Philip Lee was drafted into the army in mid-1944.

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Philip Lee, 89-years-old, of Ewing, Neb., has no problem remembering Dec. 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that changed the entire world.

On Dec. 8th President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous speech which said in part:

“Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Soon after, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany.

“We had little knowledge of what to look forward to, but we hoped for the best,” Lee said. “I was 21 years old, and my wife, Ileen and I had been married a few months, and were employed at Boise, Idaho, near where Ileen’s brother lived. I had signed up for the draft in Idaho, also signed up for a deferment in order to help farmers harvest and work with cattle, as we planned to return to Nebraska in October.”

In mid-1944 Lee was drafted into the army, given 10 days to get things in order, told to report to Omaha, and along with other soliders, sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he took six weeks of basic training. “One night we came in from field exercises and got a report that we would be shipped out the next morning overseas to the Battle of the Bulge in Germany, for replacements on the battlefield,” he explained.

The GI’s traveled by airplane, train and ship to get to their destination.

“I can still remember leaving New York City on what had been a cruise ship. As we left port I saw the Statue of Liberty disappearing over the horizon and wondered if that would be the last time we would see her,” Lee remarked.

The ship was in submarine infested waters and turned every two minutes from right to left. It took 11 days, crossing the ocean. The ship anchored at Marseille, France, and the soliders were unloaded on a barge.

“It felt good to be on solid earth again,” Lee said with a laugh. “We got in trucks and were taken to the replacement depot where we received our orders to load up on a French train. Due to the bombing the tracks had to be repaired often, so it took a long time.

Eventually, we arrived at Depot #54 outside of Marseille, France, and were loaded in trucks, with about 50-75 trucks in the convoy. On each vehicle, right above the driver, was a 50 caliber machine gun. We were taken to the Company Commander where we received instructions and equipment, about 200 yards from the front lines.

“The Commander asked us what we did on the rifle range in basic training,” Lee expressed. “I said, ‘I think I made a rifleman,’ (which was as low as you can get). My aim isn’t too good.

“His response was, ‘I’m sure your aim will be perfect.’ It was as if it was an exchange of friendship.

“We were loaded in a truck, on a cobblestone road, artillery on both sides of the road. The Germans were throwing shells trying to pick up those guns, and that is how we got introduced to combat.

“It’s a strange thing, though,” he continued. “We went down that road and not a shell fell on us. We would have been ‘sitting ducks’ if they had opened up on that road. The Americans were camouflaged, but we didn’t see any Germans.

“There were two soliders to each foxhole. Every night we were put on patrol, either trying to find out where the Germans were or picking up mortar rounds, (shells) and bringing them back from the outposts. Almost every night we’d get shot at with burp guns. (German weapons.)

“We got two hot meals a day, morning and night, which was brought to us in our foxholes, and had K-rations for dinner. One day I was going to get my K-rations, and one of the German’s big shells came within 50 yards of me. I dove for whatever place I could get into. The shell exploded, and I could hear the shrapnel go down through the trees.

“We did what we were told,” he said. “We didn’t try to fight the war by ourselves. The first week it seemed like I was out on patrol every night.

“One day I saw two German soliders; they couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 years old. I shouted to them in German ‘hande hoch’ which meant, ‘hands up.’ I had my gun within a foot of them if they did anything dangerous. They were either frightened or waiting for someone to shoot them. The Lieutenant shouted to me: ‘We’re not taking any prisoners of war today.’ I shouted back: ‘Officer, if you want these kids you shoot them.’ The next thing I knew bullets were flying around me. Talk about friendly fire! These kids were near a big tree and I shoved them behind that tree and then I lost it,” he exclaimed. “I called that Lieutenant everything I could think of, and said: ‘Articles of War, Geneva conference,’ which means, once they surrender don’t torture them unless they act smart or give trouble. I had to frisk them to see that they didn’t have any weapons or grenades. They were taken prisoner and one of these soldiers had a little book with pictures, flowers, and birth dates in his canteen. He didn’t want any of his equipment; I put that book in my pocket and still have it.”

Lee was in France approximately five months, and from there went to Germany.

In Germany

On Jan. 1, 1945, we were instructed to load up in the trucks … destination Germany.

“We drove all day into the night, arrived at a village, and waited to get orders from our Company Commander. As we were unloading we heard an airplane. I knew it wasn’t one of our planes. I said to my foxhole buddy, ‘That’s not our airplane.’ He laughed and said, ‘How do you know?’

“After being on the front lines four months I could tell by the pitch of the propeller. We heard the scream of that bomber coming down. The truck drivers had their headlights on and were a real target for that plane. They turned their lights off … Just over the top of their heads in the cab were 50 caliber machine guns. Every one of those men commanded their guns. The plane may have taken bullets, but not enough to damage him or his plane. He had gotten into a real hornet’s nest. The next morning we were told that we lost one truck and driver which was shot by the plane.

“The Company Commander called the Battalion headquarters and said, ‘The German’s had a plane out and we lost a truck and driver last night.’ The response was, ‘The Germans don’t have a plane in the air.’ The Commander replied, ‘Well, it happened!’

“We did mostly guard duty in cities, Frankfort, Hadimar and Saarbrucken which were pretty much bombed out,” Lee explained. “The German soldiers had left, and we were instructed to search homes occupied by civilians to make sure they didn’t have weapons, etc. We also did guard duty around prisoner of war hospitals, crematoriums and other places.

“One day during our Occupational Duty our Company Commander instructed us to load up for another assignment. With about six trucks in this convoy we had no idea where we were going. After driving approximately 50 miles we arrived at Bad Homburg. We came to a steel gate, which was opened; inside was a picket fence, about 12 feet high. The Master Sergeant told us, ‘Gentlemen, your new duties are – you are now bodyguards for General Eisenhower.

“I remember writing home to my dad, ‘Guess what your boy’s doing now,’ ” Lee said with a laugh.

A complete infantry company was not appointed for this position. Between 87-90 men were hand picked by the Sergeant; replacements for Eisenhower’s present bodyguards who had been there three years and were being sent home.

“For two days we were processed. My first duty was to walk the perimeter, which was 25-30 acres in the compound. We saw Eisenhower come and go at different times, but there was no saluting, as there was no eye contact. We had to make sure there was no one cutting the fence, etc. I was put on guard duty under his window many nights from 8 p.m. until midnight, or midnight until 4 a.m., and told to be very quiet as not to disturb the General.”

Lee also did train duty for General Patton as he was being escorted from Munich, Germany, on Eisenhower’s Special Train.

Every morning the soldiers had to pass inspection. However, one day the unexpected happened. The Sergeant went by Lee, stopped, and barked: “Solider, you haven’t polished your buttons.”

Lee was sent to his quarters and spent most of the day polishing his buttons.

“I got busted off of train guard duty and the next morning had to post guard by General Eisenhower’s two beautiful Jersey cows. Eisenhower had an orderly who took care of his cows that were milked by hand. You can be sure, I made sure my buttons were polished after that.

“One day an orderly had me open the main gate as the General was leaving. He went by me, I saluted him and he gave me the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I felt like I was 10 feet tall! This was the only time I ever saluted him.

“I went in combat as a farm boy,” Lee said. “Not knowing anything about war, and suddenly was put in a position of doing different things. I met officers with anticipation, and had the deepest respect for them. There never was any ill feeling.”

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the fiercest battles ever fought by the United State Army, with the most casualties and 600,000 GI’s involved.

Lee spent 11-1/2 months in Germany, and was discharged in July of 1946, with two bronze stars for combat duty and numerous ribbons.

He and his wife, Ileen, live in Ewing, Neb., and observed their 68th wedding anniversary this June.

Philip Lee, 89-years-old, of Ewing, Neb., has no problem remembering Dec. 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that changed the entire world.

On Dec. 8th President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous speech which said in part:

“Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Soon after, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany.

“We had little knowledge of what to look forward to, but we hoped for the best,” Lee said. “I was 21 years old, and my wife, Ileen and I had been married a few months, and were employed at Boise, Idaho, near where Ileen’s brother lived. I had signed up for the draft in Idaho, also signed up for a deferment in order to help farmers harvest and work with cattle, as we planned to return to Nebraska in October.”

In mid-1944 Lee was drafted into the army, given 10 days to get things in order, told to report to Omaha, and along with other soliders, sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he took six weeks of basic training. “One night we came in from field exercises and got a report that we would be shipped out the next morning overseas to the Battle of the Bulge in Germany, for replacements on the battlefield,” he explained.

The GI’s traveled by airplane, train and ship to get to their destination.

“I can still remember leaving New York City on what had been a cruise ship. As we left port I saw the Statue of Liberty disappearing over the horizon and wondered if that would be the last time we would see her,” Lee remarked.

The ship was in submarine infested waters and turned every two minutes from right to left. It took 11 days, crossing the ocean. The ship anchored at Marseille, France, and the soliders were unloaded on a barge.

“It felt good to be on solid earth again,” Lee said with a laugh. “We got in trucks and were taken to the replacement depot where we received our orders to load up on a French train. Due to the bombing the tracks had to be repaired often, so it took a long time.

Eventually, we arrived at Depot #54 outside of Marseille, France, and were loaded in trucks, with about 50-75 trucks in the convoy. On each vehicle, right above the driver, was a 50 caliber machine gun. We were taken to the Company Commander where we received instructions and equipment, about 200 yards from the front lines.

“The Commander asked us what we did on the rifle range in basic training,” Lee expressed. “I said, ‘I think I made a rifleman,’ (which was as low as you can get). My aim isn’t too good.

“His response was, ‘I’m sure your aim will be perfect.’ It was as if it was an exchange of friendship.

“We were loaded in a truck, on a cobblestone road, artillery on both sides of the road. The Germans were throwing shells trying to pick up those guns, and that is how we got introduced to combat.

“It’s a strange thing, though,” he continued. “We went down that road and not a shell fell on us. We would have been ‘sitting ducks’ if they had opened up on that road. The Americans were camouflaged, but we didn’t see any Germans.

“There were two soliders to each foxhole. Every night we were put on patrol, either trying to find out where the Germans were or picking up mortar rounds, (shells) and bringing them back from the outposts. Almost every night we’d get shot at with burp guns. (German weapons.)

“We got two hot meals a day, morning and night, which was brought to us in our foxholes, and had K-rations for dinner. One day I was going to get my K-rations, and one of the German’s big shells came within 50 yards of me. I dove for whatever place I could get into. The shell exploded, and I could hear the shrapnel go down through the trees.

“We did what we were told,” he said. “We didn’t try to fight the war by ourselves. The first week it seemed like I was out on patrol every night.

“One day I saw two German soliders; they couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 years old. I shouted to them in German ‘hande hoch’ which meant, ‘hands up.’ I had my gun within a foot of them if they did anything dangerous. They were either frightened or waiting for someone to shoot them. The Lieutenant shouted to me: ‘We’re not taking any prisoners of war today.’ I shouted back: ‘Officer, if you want these kids you shoot them.’ The next thing I knew bullets were flying around me. Talk about friendly fire! These kids were near a big tree and I shoved them behind that tree and then I lost it,” he exclaimed. “I called that Lieutenant everything I could think of, and said: ‘Articles of War, Geneva conference,’ which means, once they surrender don’t torture them unless they act smart or give trouble. I had to frisk them to see that they didn’t have any weapons or grenades. They were taken prisoner and one of these soldiers had a little book with pictures, flowers, and birth dates in his canteen. He didn’t want any of his equipment; I put that book in my pocket and still have it.”

Lee was in France approximately five months, and from there went to Germany.

In Germany

On Jan. 1, 1945, we were instructed to load up in the trucks … destination Germany.

“We drove all day into the night, arrived at a village, and waited to get orders from our Company Commander. As we were unloading we heard an airplane. I knew it wasn’t one of our planes. I said to my foxhole buddy, ‘That’s not our airplane.’ He laughed and said, ‘How do you know?’

“After being on the front lines four months I could tell by the pitch of the propeller. We heard the scream of that bomber coming down. The truck drivers had their headlights on and were a real target for that plane. They turned their lights off … Just over the top of their heads in the cab were 50 caliber machine guns. Every one of those men commanded their guns. The plane may have taken bullets, but not enough to damage him or his plane. He had gotten into a real hornet’s nest. The next morning we were told that we lost one truck and driver which was shot by the plane.

“The Company Commander called the Battalion headquarters and said, ‘The German’s had a plane out and we lost a truck and driver last night.’ The response was, ‘The Germans don’t have a plane in the air.’ The Commander replied, ‘Well, it happened!’

“We did mostly guard duty in cities, Frankfort, Hadimar and Saarbrucken which were pretty much bombed out,” Lee explained. “The German soldiers had left, and we were instructed to search homes occupied by civilians to make sure they didn’t have weapons, etc. We also did guard duty around prisoner of war hospitals, crematoriums and other places.

“One day during our Occupational Duty our Company Commander instructed us to load up for another assignment. With about six trucks in this convoy we had no idea where we were going. After driving approximately 50 miles we arrived at Bad Homburg. We came to a steel gate, which was opened; inside was a picket fence, about 12 feet high. The Master Sergeant told us, ‘Gentlemen, your new duties are – you are now bodyguards for General Eisenhower.

“I remember writing home to my dad, ‘Guess what your boy’s doing now,’ ” Lee said with a laugh.

A complete infantry company was not appointed for this position. Between 87-90 men were hand picked by the Sergeant; replacements for Eisenhower’s present bodyguards who had been there three years and were being sent home.

“For two days we were processed. My first duty was to walk the perimeter, which was 25-30 acres in the compound. We saw Eisenhower come and go at different times, but there was no saluting, as there was no eye contact. We had to make sure there was no one cutting the fence, etc. I was put on guard duty under his window many nights from 8 p.m. until midnight, or midnight until 4 a.m., and told to be very quiet as not to disturb the General.”

Lee also did train duty for General Patton as he was being escorted from Munich, Germany, on Eisenhower’s Special Train.

Every morning the soldiers had to pass inspection. However, one day the unexpected happened. The Sergeant went by Lee, stopped, and barked: “Solider, you haven’t polished your buttons.”

Lee was sent to his quarters and spent most of the day polishing his buttons.

“I got busted off of train guard duty and the next morning had to post guard by General Eisenhower’s two beautiful Jersey cows. Eisenhower had an orderly who took care of his cows that were milked by hand. You can be sure, I made sure my buttons were polished after that.

“One day an orderly had me open the main gate as the General was leaving. He went by me, I saluted him and he gave me the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I felt like I was 10 feet tall! This was the only time I ever saluted him.

“I went in combat as a farm boy,” Lee said. “Not knowing anything about war, and suddenly was put in a position of doing different things. I met officers with anticipation, and had the deepest respect for them. There never was any ill feeling.”

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the fiercest battles ever fought by the United State Army, with the most casualties and 600,000 GI’s involved.

Lee spent 11-1/2 months in Germany, and was discharged in July of 1946, with two bronze stars for combat duty and numerous ribbons.

He and his wife, Ileen, live in Ewing, Neb., and observed their 68th wedding anniversary this June.

Philip Lee, 89-years-old, of Ewing, Neb., has no problem remembering Dec. 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that changed the entire world.

On Dec. 8th President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous speech which said in part:

“Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Soon after, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany.

“We had little knowledge of what to look forward to, but we hoped for the best,” Lee said. “I was 21 years old, and my wife, Ileen and I had been married a few months, and were employed at Boise, Idaho, near where Ileen’s brother lived. I had signed up for the draft in Idaho, also signed up for a deferment in order to help farmers harvest and work with cattle, as we planned to return to Nebraska in October.”

In mid-1944 Lee was drafted into the army, given 10 days to get things in order, told to report to Omaha, and along with other soliders, sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he took six weeks of basic training. “One night we came in from field exercises and got a report that we would be shipped out the next morning overseas to the Battle of the Bulge in Germany, for replacements on the battlefield,” he explained.

The GI’s traveled by airplane, train and ship to get to their destination.

“I can still remember leaving New York City on what had been a cruise ship. As we left port I saw the Statue of Liberty disappearing over the horizon and wondered if that would be the last time we would see her,” Lee remarked.

The ship was in submarine infested waters and turned every two minutes from right to left. It took 11 days, crossing the ocean. The ship anchored at Marseille, France, and the soliders were unloaded on a barge.

“It felt good to be on solid earth again,” Lee said with a laugh. “We got in trucks and were taken to the replacement depot where we received our orders to load up on a French train. Due to the bombing the tracks had to be repaired often, so it took a long time.

Eventually, we arrived at Depot #54 outside of Marseille, France, and were loaded in trucks, with about 50-75 trucks in the convoy. On each vehicle, right above the driver, was a 50 caliber machine gun. We were taken to the Company Commander where we received instructions and equipment, about 200 yards from the front lines.

“The Commander asked us what we did on the rifle range in basic training,” Lee expressed. “I said, ‘I think I made a rifleman,’ (which was as low as you can get). My aim isn’t too good.

“His response was, ‘I’m sure your aim will be perfect.’ It was as if it was an exchange of friendship.

“We were loaded in a truck, on a cobblestone road, artillery on both sides of the road. The Germans were throwing shells trying to pick up those guns, and that is how we got introduced to combat.

“It’s a strange thing, though,” he continued. “We went down that road and not a shell fell on us. We would have been ‘sitting ducks’ if they had opened up on that road. The Americans were camouflaged, but we didn’t see any Germans.

“There were two soliders to each foxhole. Every night we were put on patrol, either trying to find out where the Germans were or picking up mortar rounds, (shells) and bringing them back from the outposts. Almost every night we’d get shot at with burp guns. (German weapons.)

“We got two hot meals a day, morning and night, which was brought to us in our foxholes, and had K-rations for dinner. One day I was going to get my K-rations, and one of the German’s big shells came within 50 yards of me. I dove for whatever place I could get into. The shell exploded, and I could hear the shrapnel go down through the trees.

“We did what we were told,” he said. “We didn’t try to fight the war by ourselves. The first week it seemed like I was out on patrol every night.

“One day I saw two German soliders; they couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 years old. I shouted to them in German ‘hande hoch’ which meant, ‘hands up.’ I had my gun within a foot of them if they did anything dangerous. They were either frightened or waiting for someone to shoot them. The Lieutenant shouted to me: ‘We’re not taking any prisoners of war today.’ I shouted back: ‘Officer, if you want these kids you shoot them.’ The next thing I knew bullets were flying around me. Talk about friendly fire! These kids were near a big tree and I shoved them behind that tree and then I lost it,” he exclaimed. “I called that Lieutenant everything I could think of, and said: ‘Articles of War, Geneva conference,’ which means, once they surrender don’t torture them unless they act smart or give trouble. I had to frisk them to see that they didn’t have any weapons or grenades. They were taken prisoner and one of these soldiers had a little book with pictures, flowers, and birth dates in his canteen. He didn’t want any of his equipment; I put that book in my pocket and still have it.”

Lee was in France approximately five months, and from there went to Germany.

In Germany

On Jan. 1, 1945, we were instructed to load up in the trucks … destination Germany.

“We drove all day into the night, arrived at a village, and waited to get orders from our Company Commander. As we were unloading we heard an airplane. I knew it wasn’t one of our planes. I said to my foxhole buddy, ‘That’s not our airplane.’ He laughed and said, ‘How do you know?’

“After being on the front lines four months I could tell by the pitch of the propeller. We heard the scream of that bomber coming down. The truck drivers had their headlights on and were a real target for that plane. They turned their lights off … Just over the top of their heads in the cab were 50 caliber machine guns. Every one of those men commanded their guns. The plane may have taken bullets, but not enough to damage him or his plane. He had gotten into a real hornet’s nest. The next morning we were told that we lost one truck and driver which was shot by the plane.

“The Company Commander called the Battalion headquarters and said, ‘The German’s had a plane out and we lost a truck and driver last night.’ The response was, ‘The Germans don’t have a plane in the air.’ The Commander replied, ‘Well, it happened!’

“We did mostly guard duty in cities, Frankfort, Hadimar and Saarbrucken which were pretty much bombed out,” Lee explained. “The German soldiers had left, and we were instructed to search homes occupied by civilians to make sure they didn’t have weapons, etc. We also did guard duty around prisoner of war hospitals, crematoriums and other places.

“One day during our Occupational Duty our Company Commander instructed us to load up for another assignment. With about six trucks in this convoy we had no idea where we were going. After driving approximately 50 miles we arrived at Bad Homburg. We came to a steel gate, which was opened; inside was a picket fence, about 12 feet high. The Master Sergeant told us, ‘Gentlemen, your new duties are – you are now bodyguards for General Eisenhower.

“I remember writing home to my dad, ‘Guess what your boy’s doing now,’ ” Lee said with a laugh.

A complete infantry company was not appointed for this position. Between 87-90 men were hand picked by the Sergeant; replacements for Eisenhower’s present bodyguards who had been there three years and were being sent home.

“For two days we were processed. My first duty was to walk the perimeter, which was 25-30 acres in the compound. We saw Eisenhower come and go at different times, but there was no saluting, as there was no eye contact. We had to make sure there was no one cutting the fence, etc. I was put on guard duty under his window many nights from 8 p.m. until midnight, or midnight until 4 a.m., and told to be very quiet as not to disturb the General.”

Lee also did train duty for General Patton as he was being escorted from Munich, Germany, on Eisenhower’s Special Train.

Every morning the soldiers had to pass inspection. However, one day the unexpected happened. The Sergeant went by Lee, stopped, and barked: “Solider, you haven’t polished your buttons.”

Lee was sent to his quarters and spent most of the day polishing his buttons.

“I got busted off of train guard duty and the next morning had to post guard by General Eisenhower’s two beautiful Jersey cows. Eisenhower had an orderly who took care of his cows that were milked by hand. You can be sure, I made sure my buttons were polished after that.

“One day an orderly had me open the main gate as the General was leaving. He went by me, I saluted him and he gave me the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I felt like I was 10 feet tall! This was the only time I ever saluted him.

“I went in combat as a farm boy,” Lee said. “Not knowing anything about war, and suddenly was put in a position of doing different things. I met officers with anticipation, and had the deepest respect for them. There never was any ill feeling.”

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the fiercest battles ever fought by the United State Army, with the most casualties and 600,000 GI’s involved.

Lee spent 11-1/2 months in Germany, and was discharged in July of 1946, with two bronze stars for combat duty and numerous ribbons.

He and his wife, Ileen, live in Ewing, Neb., and observed their 68th wedding anniversary this June.

Philip Lee, 89-years-old, of Ewing, Neb., has no problem remembering Dec. 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that changed the entire world.

On Dec. 8th President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous speech which said in part:

“Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Soon after, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany.

“We had little knowledge of what to look forward to, but we hoped for the best,” Lee said. “I was 21 years old, and my wife, Ileen and I had been married a few months, and were employed at Boise, Idaho, near where Ileen’s brother lived. I had signed up for the draft in Idaho, also signed up for a deferment in order to help farmers harvest and work with cattle, as we planned to return to Nebraska in October.”

In mid-1944 Lee was drafted into the army, given 10 days to get things in order, told to report to Omaha, and along with other soliders, sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he took six weeks of basic training. “One night we came in from field exercises and got a report that we would be shipped out the next morning overseas to the Battle of the Bulge in Germany, for replacements on the battlefield,” he explained.

The GI’s traveled by airplane, train and ship to get to their destination.

“I can still remember leaving New York City on what had been a cruise ship. As we left port I saw the Statue of Liberty disappearing over the horizon and wondered if that would be the last time we would see her,” Lee remarked.

The ship was in submarine infested waters and turned every two minutes from right to left. It took 11 days, crossing the ocean. The ship anchored at Marseille, France, and the soliders were unloaded on a barge.

“It felt good to be on solid earth again,” Lee said with a laugh. “We got in trucks and were taken to the replacement depot where we received our orders to load up on a French train. Due to the bombing the tracks had to be repaired often, so it took a long time.

Eventually, we arrived at Depot #54 outside of Marseille, France, and were loaded in trucks, with about 50-75 trucks in the convoy. On each vehicle, right above the driver, was a 50 caliber machine gun. We were taken to the Company Commander where we received instructions and equipment, about 200 yards from the front lines.

“The Commander asked us what we did on the rifle range in basic training,” Lee expressed. “I said, ‘I think I made a rifleman,’ (which was as low as you can get). My aim isn’t too good.

“His response was, ‘I’m sure your aim will be perfect.’ It was as if it was an exchange of friendship.

“We were loaded in a truck, on a cobblestone road, artillery on both sides of the road. The Germans were throwing shells trying to pick up those guns, and that is how we got introduced to combat.

“It’s a strange thing, though,” he continued. “We went down that road and not a shell fell on us. We would have been ‘sitting ducks’ if they had opened up on that road. The Americans were camouflaged, but we didn’t see any Germans.

“There were two soliders to each foxhole. Every night we were put on patrol, either trying to find out where the Germans were or picking up mortar rounds, (shells) and bringing them back from the outposts. Almost every night we’d get shot at with burp guns. (German weapons.)

“We got two hot meals a day, morning and night, which was brought to us in our foxholes, and had K-rations for dinner. One day I was going to get my K-rations, and one of the German’s big shells came within 50 yards of me. I dove for whatever place I could get into. The shell exploded, and I could hear the shrapnel go down through the trees.

“We did what we were told,” he said. “We didn’t try to fight the war by ourselves. The first week it seemed like I was out on patrol every night.

“One day I saw two German soliders; they couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 years old. I shouted to them in German ‘hande hoch’ which meant, ‘hands up.’ I had my gun within a foot of them if they did anything dangerous. They were either frightened or waiting for someone to shoot them. The Lieutenant shouted to me: ‘We’re not taking any prisoners of war today.’ I shouted back: ‘Officer, if you want these kids you shoot them.’ The next thing I knew bullets were flying around me. Talk about friendly fire! These kids were near a big tree and I shoved them behind that tree and then I lost it,” he exclaimed. “I called that Lieutenant everything I could think of, and said: ‘Articles of War, Geneva conference,’ which means, once they surrender don’t torture them unless they act smart or give trouble. I had to frisk them to see that they didn’t have any weapons or grenades. They were taken prisoner and one of these soldiers had a little book with pictures, flowers, and birth dates in his canteen. He didn’t want any of his equipment; I put that book in my pocket and still have it.”

Lee was in France approximately five months, and from there went to Germany.

In Germany

On Jan. 1, 1945, we were instructed to load up in the trucks … destination Germany.

“We drove all day into the night, arrived at a village, and waited to get orders from our Company Commander. As we were unloading we heard an airplane. I knew it wasn’t one of our planes. I said to my foxhole buddy, ‘That’s not our airplane.’ He laughed and said, ‘How do you know?’

“After being on the front lines four months I could tell by the pitch of the propeller. We heard the scream of that bomber coming down. The truck drivers had their headlights on and were a real target for that plane. They turned their lights off … Just over the top of their heads in the cab were 50 caliber machine guns. Every one of those men commanded their guns. The plane may have taken bullets, but not enough to damage him or his plane. He had gotten into a real hornet’s nest. The next morning we were told that we lost one truck and driver which was shot by the plane.

“The Company Commander called the Battalion headquarters and said, ‘The German’s had a plane out and we lost a truck and driver last night.’ The response was, ‘The Germans don’t have a plane in the air.’ The Commander replied, ‘Well, it happened!’

“We did mostly guard duty in cities, Frankfort, Hadimar and Saarbrucken which were pretty much bombed out,” Lee explained. “The German soldiers had left, and we were instructed to search homes occupied by civilians to make sure they didn’t have weapons, etc. We also did guard duty around prisoner of war hospitals, crematoriums and other places.

“One day during our Occupational Duty our Company Commander instructed us to load up for another assignment. With about six trucks in this convoy we had no idea where we were going. After driving approximately 50 miles we arrived at Bad Homburg. We came to a steel gate, which was opened; inside was a picket fence, about 12 feet high. The Master Sergeant told us, ‘Gentlemen, your new duties are – you are now bodyguards for General Eisenhower.

“I remember writing home to my dad, ‘Guess what your boy’s doing now,’ ” Lee said with a laugh.

A complete infantry company was not appointed for this position. Between 87-90 men were hand picked by the Sergeant; replacements for Eisenhower’s present bodyguards who had been there three years and were being sent home.

“For two days we were processed. My first duty was to walk the perimeter, which was 25-30 acres in the compound. We saw Eisenhower come and go at different times, but there was no saluting, as there was no eye contact. We had to make sure there was no one cutting the fence, etc. I was put on guard duty under his window many nights from 8 p.m. until midnight, or midnight until 4 a.m., and told to be very quiet as not to disturb the General.”

Lee also did train duty for General Patton as he was being escorted from Munich, Germany, on Eisenhower’s Special Train.

Every morning the soldiers had to pass inspection. However, one day the unexpected happened. The Sergeant went by Lee, stopped, and barked: “Solider, you haven’t polished your buttons.”

Lee was sent to his quarters and spent most of the day polishing his buttons.

“I got busted off of train guard duty and the next morning had to post guard by General Eisenhower’s two beautiful Jersey cows. Eisenhower had an orderly who took care of his cows that were milked by hand. You can be sure, I made sure my buttons were polished after that.

“One day an orderly had me open the main gate as the General was leaving. He went by me, I saluted him and he gave me the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I felt like I was 10 feet tall! This was the only time I ever saluted him.

“I went in combat as a farm boy,” Lee said. “Not knowing anything about war, and suddenly was put in a position of doing different things. I met officers with anticipation, and had the deepest respect for them. There never was any ill feeling.”

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the fiercest battles ever fought by the United State Army, with the most casualties and 600,000 GI’s involved.

Lee spent 11-1/2 months in Germany, and was discharged in July of 1946, with two bronze stars for combat duty and numerous ribbons.

He and his wife, Ileen, live in Ewing, Neb., and observed their 68th wedding anniversary this June.

Philip Lee, 89-years-old, of Ewing, Neb., has no problem remembering Dec. 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that changed the entire world.

On Dec. 8th President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous speech which said in part:

“Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Soon after, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany.

“We had little knowledge of what to look forward to, but we hoped for the best,” Lee said. “I was 21 years old, and my wife, Ileen and I had been married a few months, and were employed at Boise, Idaho, near where Ileen’s brother lived. I had signed up for the draft in Idaho, also signed up for a deferment in order to help farmers harvest and work with cattle, as we planned to return to Nebraska in October.”

In mid-1944 Lee was drafted into the army, given 10 days to get things in order, told to report to Omaha, and along with other soliders, sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he took six weeks of basic training. “One night we came in from field exercises and got a report that we would be shipped out the next morning overseas to the Battle of the Bulge in Germany, for replacements on the battlefield,” he explained.

The GI’s traveled by airplane, train and ship to get to their destination.

“I can still remember leaving New York City on what had been a cruise ship. As we left port I saw the Statue of Liberty disappearing over the horizon and wondered if that would be the last time we would see her,” Lee remarked.

The ship was in submarine infested waters and turned every two minutes from right to left. It took 11 days, crossing the ocean. The ship anchored at Marseille, France, and the soliders were unloaded on a barge.

“It felt good to be on solid earth again,” Lee said with a laugh. “We got in trucks and were taken to the replacement depot where we received our orders to load up on a French train. Due to the bombing the tracks had to be repaired often, so it took a long time.

Eventually, we arrived at Depot #54 outside of Marseille, France, and were loaded in trucks, with about 50-75 trucks in the convoy. On each vehicle, right above the driver, was a 50 caliber machine gun. We were taken to the Company Commander where we received instructions and equipment, about 200 yards from the front lines.

“The Commander asked us what we did on the rifle range in basic training,” Lee expressed. “I said, ‘I think I made a rifleman,’ (which was as low as you can get). My aim isn’t too good.

“His response was, ‘I’m sure your aim will be perfect.’ It was as if it was an exchange of friendship.

“We were loaded in a truck, on a cobblestone road, artillery on both sides of the road. The Germans were throwing shells trying to pick up those guns, and that is how we got introduced to combat.

“It’s a strange thing, though,” he continued. “We went down that road and not a shell fell on us. We would have been ‘sitting ducks’ if they had opened up on that road. The Americans were camouflaged, but we didn’t see any Germans.

“There were two soliders to each foxhole. Every night we were put on patrol, either trying to find out where the Germans were or picking up mortar rounds, (shells) and bringing them back from the outposts. Almost every night we’d get shot at with burp guns. (German weapons.)

“We got two hot meals a day, morning and night, which was brought to us in our foxholes, and had K-rations for dinner. One day I was going to get my K-rations, and one of the German’s big shells came within 50 yards of me. I dove for whatever place I could get into. The shell exploded, and I could hear the shrapnel go down through the trees.

“We did what we were told,” he said. “We didn’t try to fight the war by ourselves. The first week it seemed like I was out on patrol every night.

“One day I saw two German soliders; they couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 years old. I shouted to them in German ‘hande hoch’ which meant, ‘hands up.’ I had my gun within a foot of them if they did anything dangerous. They were either frightened or waiting for someone to shoot them. The Lieutenant shouted to me: ‘We’re not taking any prisoners of war today.’ I shouted back: ‘Officer, if you want these kids you shoot them.’ The next thing I knew bullets were flying around me. Talk about friendly fire! These kids were near a big tree and I shoved them behind that tree and then I lost it,” he exclaimed. “I called that Lieutenant everything I could think of, and said: ‘Articles of War, Geneva conference,’ which means, once they surrender don’t torture them unless they act smart or give trouble. I had to frisk them to see that they didn’t have any weapons or grenades. They were taken prisoner and one of these soldiers had a little book with pictures, flowers, and birth dates in his canteen. He didn’t want any of his equipment; I put that book in my pocket and still have it.”

Lee was in France approximately five months, and from there went to Germany.

In Germany

On Jan. 1, 1945, we were instructed to load up in the trucks … destination Germany.

“We drove all day into the night, arrived at a village, and waited to get orders from our Company Commander. As we were unloading we heard an airplane. I knew it wasn’t one of our planes. I said to my foxhole buddy, ‘That’s not our airplane.’ He laughed and said, ‘How do you know?’

“After being on the front lines four months I could tell by the pitch of the propeller. We heard the scream of that bomber coming down. The truck drivers had their headlights on and were a real target for that plane. They turned their lights off … Just over the top of their heads in the cab were 50 caliber machine guns. Every one of those men commanded their guns. The plane may have taken bullets, but not enough to damage him or his plane. He had gotten into a real hornet’s nest. The next morning we were told that we lost one truck and driver which was shot by the plane.

“The Company Commander called the Battalion headquarters and said, ‘The German’s had a plane out and we lost a truck and driver last night.’ The response was, ‘The Germans don’t have a plane in the air.’ The Commander replied, ‘Well, it happened!’

“We did mostly guard duty in cities, Frankfort, Hadimar and Saarbrucken which were pretty much bombed out,” Lee explained. “The German soldiers had left, and we were instructed to search homes occupied by civilians to make sure they didn’t have weapons, etc. We also did guard duty around prisoner of war hospitals, crematoriums and other places.

“One day during our Occupational Duty our Company Commander instructed us to load up for another assignment. With about six trucks in this convoy we had no idea where we were going. After driving approximately 50 miles we arrived at Bad Homburg. We came to a steel gate, which was opened; inside was a picket fence, about 12 feet high. The Master Sergeant told us, ‘Gentlemen, your new duties are – you are now bodyguards for General Eisenhower.

“I remember writing home to my dad, ‘Guess what your boy’s doing now,’ ” Lee said with a laugh.

A complete infantry company was not appointed for this position. Between 87-90 men were hand picked by the Sergeant; replacements for Eisenhower’s present bodyguards who had been there three years and were being sent home.

“For two days we were processed. My first duty was to walk the perimeter, which was 25-30 acres in the compound. We saw Eisenhower come and go at different times, but there was no saluting, as there was no eye contact. We had to make sure there was no one cutting the fence, etc. I was put on guard duty under his window many nights from 8 p.m. until midnight, or midnight until 4 a.m., and told to be very quiet as not to disturb the General.”

Lee also did train duty for General Patton as he was being escorted from Munich, Germany, on Eisenhower’s Special Train.

Every morning the soldiers had to pass inspection. However, one day the unexpected happened. The Sergeant went by Lee, stopped, and barked: “Solider, you haven’t polished your buttons.”

Lee was sent to his quarters and spent most of the day polishing his buttons.

“I got busted off of train guard duty and the next morning had to post guard by General Eisenhower’s two beautiful Jersey cows. Eisenhower had an orderly who took care of his cows that were milked by hand. You can be sure, I made sure my buttons were polished after that.

“One day an orderly had me open the main gate as the General was leaving. He went by me, I saluted him and he gave me the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I felt like I was 10 feet tall! This was the only time I ever saluted him.

“I went in combat as a farm boy,” Lee said. “Not knowing anything about war, and suddenly was put in a position of doing different things. I met officers with anticipation, and had the deepest respect for them. There never was any ill feeling.”

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the fiercest battles ever fought by the United State Army, with the most casualties and 600,000 GI’s involved.

Lee spent 11-1/2 months in Germany, and was discharged in July of 1946, with two bronze stars for combat duty and numerous ribbons.

He and his wife, Ileen, live in Ewing, Neb., and observed their 68th wedding anniversary this June.


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