“We were in the 3rd Army’s drive into Luxembourg as part of Gen. George S. Patton’s troops in Europe during World War II,” Sgt. Otto Brauer of Venice, Fla. said.
“My unit, A-Company, 282nd Engineering Combat Battalion, 3rd Army arrived at a small village south of Bastogne. My squad was dropped off with orders to charge the bridge over a small river at the edge of the village if we we couldn’t hold the bridge we were to blow it up.
“We sent in more explosives than it would take with four fuses. Because of the snow, well above our knees, we dug shallow foxholes and pilled brush and snow up to give us some cover. For 24-hours we had four men on four hour watches around the clock.
“Up the hill from the river was a small farmhouse we moved into. An elderly couple lived in the house. We told them we would be staying in their home. We also explained that we would use the big room in the house to sleep in on the floor. The old couple could stay in their house, too, we explained.
“We shared our K-rations with them. They were amazed that we ate meals out of a packet.
”We spotted deer tracks down by the river on Dec. 23, 1944. We talked about how great it would be to have venison for dinner.
“Pvt. Loyd O. Ebeling of Washington, Kan. volunteered to go on a hunt. When he returned he was carrying a small deer. They’re much smaller than our white tail deer in this country.
“I could speak a little German, so I told the elderly couple if they would clean and cook the deer for Christmas Day we would eat Christmas dinner together. They were excited about the prospect and agreed.
“On Christmas Day, about midday, out came the husband with some wine. His wife brought out a large roasting pan with a whole brown deer, less his head, with onions and potatoes around it. Grace was said. We all sat down with the couple. The dinner was more than we expected.
“Our guards on the bridge were relieved by others so they too could enjoy the Christmas meal.
“That was my squad’s Christmas in 1944 in Luxembourg. I can’t recall the name of the village nor can I name the two wonderful people whose house we shared.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on December 2002 and is republished with permission.
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