The First fights onward

(The following news clippings are "delayed" from October 4, 1944)

"The First Infantry Division and the Third Armored Division comprised the crack "first team" which drove a steel wedge completely through the Siegfried Line east of Aachen it was revealed today when the out fits were taken off the restricted list for action through Sept. 2.

The divisions first joined forces south of Saint-Lo, before the great breakthrough there. The Ninth Division pushed halfway down the road to Marigny, and then the First and Third shot through straight to Marigny. There the team swung southeast to Coutances to complete their part in that operation. First Army intelligence officers give much credit to the First Infantry and Third Armored for winning the battle for the Siegfried Line way back at Mons. There, within four days, the First took 17,000 prisoners, many of whom had been destined to man the defenses of the German wall.

The First Division is commanded by Major General Clarence Huebuer, of Kansas, who worked his way up from the ranks as an enlisted man. He took over the division near the end of the Sicilian campaign and has had it in the van of the American advance all the way across France and Belgium."

"Courage and coolness under fire"

An army consists of more than a bunch of guys with guns. It’s a flexible team containing numerous role-playing units. If there were just soldiers, who would recover the wounded? Who would direct the combat? Who would restock the artillery? Each person must do their duty. It was in the pursuit of this duty that 2nd Lieutenant Burkhalter was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and America’s third highest honor, The Silver Star for gallantry. His citation for the Silver Star reads as follows :

"For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Haaren, Germany, 21 October 1944. Although constantly subjected to heavy artillery bombardment and several times thrown to the ground by concussion of exploding shells, Chaplain Burkhalter moved about an exposed area and directed the recovery of the bodies of American casualties. Chaplain Burkhalter’s courage and coolness under fire were of great inspiration to all who witnessed his gallant deeds."

The Battle of the Bulge

The Battle of the Bulge lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 28, 1945 and was the largest land battle of World War II. More than a million men participated in this battle including some 600,000 Germans, 500,000 Americans, and 55,000 British. The Battle of the Bulge was very costly in terms of both men and equipment. Hitlers last ditch attempt to bring Germany back into winning the war failed. During this battle the Germans had expended the majority of there Air power and men. The Allies however had plenty of men and equipment left. With few forces left to defend "The Reich" the Germans could not prolong the inevitable. Germany's final defeat was only months away.

It was during this "final battle for freedom" that John Burkhalter sustained multiple head injuries due to exploding shrapnel. He was declared "missing in action" for several weeks before eventually turning up in a French hospital. As soon as he was able, he would return to the front, desiring to serve onward and finish the mission assigned him. John would eventually receive a Purple Heart for these injuries.

From Hell to Victory

The First Division would fight onward, eventually contributing to the conclusion of the war effort on V-Day, May 7, 1945. Although it's known that Rev. Burkhalter would return to action, details are sketchy as to his specific exploits during the remainder of the war. John would spend a total of 20 months in the European Theater of Operations.

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