Seventy years ago this week, George Jacob found himself dodging Nazi bullets and artillery fire in one of the decisive battles of World War II.
Today, he is one of an ever- dwindling number of living veterans able to offer a firsthand account of that clash, known to history as the Battle of the Bulge.
Like many of his generation, he chose for years to bury the violence of war in his past, rarely talking about his days in the infantry, even to his family.
But this week, with the battle coming up on a historic anniversary, Jacob spoke candidly for the first time about what it was like being there as 20-year-old from New York.
“I really don’t feel I need publicity,” he explained from the back porch of his Venice home. “I did my job.”
That job was enormously consequential. In December of 1944, Adolf Hitler made a gambit to stop the Allied drive toward Germany by unleashing a surprise counterattack in the Ardennes region with much of his remaining military forces.
The attack, if successful, would have allowed Germany to retake the vital Belgian port city of Antwerp and, Hitler believed, enabled the Nazis to force a negotiated peace.
It became known as the Battle of the Bulge — the deadliest battle for U.S. forces in the entire Second World War. When it was over, 19,000 U.S. troops were dead — three times more than have been killed in the last Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
On Dec. 16, the Germans launched their surprise attack under cover of a snowstorm that had grounded U.S. fighter planes... (see more at: http://veterans.heraldtribune.com/)