Veterans Day 2011 Part 5 (A look back at the “Battle of the Bulge”)

The Lost Evidence: The Battle Of The Bulge (1/5)


This article was published in the Saline Courier about 18 months ago:

When we celebrate July 4th we are focusing on the freedoms that so many soldiers have fought for over the last 234 years. That focus has been highlighted for me since my son Hunter has served as a gunner in Iraq in 2008 and went on 37 convoy-security missions. In January of 2012 Hunter is scheduled to deploy with the National Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan. 
My nephew, Jeremy Parks of Cordova, Tenn., has been training in Germany the last few months and was deployed to Afghanistan on June 22 with the U.S. Army 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. The post where Jeremy is located does not have electricity, and mail is delivered by parachute. 
Until recently, I never knew how many people I had known for a long time who had relatives who served in the military. Now that people know that my relatives are going into combat, they have shared their stories with me about their fathers and grandfathers who have fought for our country, and I have discovered that there are heroes all around us. 


Just this week I mentioned this article I was working on to my secretary, Joanne Treece, and she told me that her father, Richard Cottrell of Rossville, Ind., drove a tank for the 11th Armored Division, 41st Tank Battalion at the European Theatre under Gen. Patton. In fact, Patton rode on Cottrell’s tank during several battles and journeys. Cottrell received three Battle Stars and was at the Battle of the Bulge. He lost two of his turret gunners, and many soldiers in the battalion were killed.
According to Cottrell’s wife, Virginia, Cottrell was the fastest tank driver and was called “Pee Wee” because of his small stature: he was 5 feet, 4 inches tall. Many times he would clear the way for the other tanks. On occasion he would drive through towns, and people would line the streets with American flags and cheer them on. That surely was a good feeling.


However, near Luxembourg his battalion came upon a German concentration camp and found bodies stacked upon each other. What a horrible sight and something that Cottrell would not talk about, even with his wife of 63 years. Richard Cottrell passed away on Dec. 28, 2009, at the age of 84. His widow still lives in Indiana, but she was in Little Rock this week to visit relatives.

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