World War II veteran Hugh Colbert survived the bloody Battle of the Bulge, where nearly 80,000 were killed, maimed or captured, but he left the battle as a prisoner of war under the Germans.
Colbert told Buck Sexton on The Glenn Beck Program Tuesday that he was part of a group of men attempting to re-establish the supply lines that had been cut by the Germans when he was captured. It was late December, and some had already frozen to death.
"We walked out, walked all day long, covered about five miles, and got into a wooded area," Colbert explained. "As nine men crossed the road going over there, the Germans came down the road with tanks and started firing down there and cut us off from those nine men. ... As a result, my group -- there were about 200 of us in the little valley there, and the rest of the regiment was behind us in some wooded area -- we were trapped. ... Two hundred of us were trapped, and were captured about 11 o'clock that morning."
Colbert said there was "nothing" he and his fellow Americans could have done, armed with only rifles, to defeat the German tanks.
"Somebody gave word to me that we had to surrender to them, to throw down our rifles and go toward the tanks," Colbert continued. "When we got up to the tanks, the infantrymen came up and took over, searched us and put us in a building, took us down to the little town of Aul."
Nazis were known to violate the rules of war, and Colbert later found out that just fifteen miles from where they were held, the Nazis had executed a group of prisoners. Early in his captivity, he remembered someone telling him: "They're talking about shooting us all."
"We thought that might be the end. About fifteen miles from us, they had done that," he said.
But Colbert wasn't executed. Instead, he said the Germans made them march 135 miles through the snow to a prison camp. He spent Christmas there, but he was grateful for two things.
"My buddies and I had saved some things, some of our rations, and were eating all alone," he said. "We had left a third of a [chocolate] bar. My two buddies and I, we cut that up in three pieces, and that's what we had for Christmas Day lunch."
He was also grateful that he could hear the Americans bombing in the distance, reminding him that they hadn't forgotten about him and his fellow soldiers. He called the bombings a "gift from Uncle Sam."
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