The Battle of the Bulge was World War II’s largest and bloodiest—over one million soldiers fought and 19,000 Americans alone were killed.
“It was a surprise to the Allied headquarters, so naturally it was a surprise to us. All we knew is we were being shot at --and we had to hold,” said World War II veteran Dee Paris.
The 97-year-old Silver Spring resident was then an Army tank platoon leader, part of the ninth armored division. He still remembers death all too well.
We were “going down the hill, and a gun fired at me, went right over my head. The only time I ever could hear a round…like that. And my other tanks were up higher on the ground. That's the one that decapitated my sergeant,” Paris said.
The soldiers in 1944 to 1945 faced the coldest winter in 50 years, but also faced superior German weaponry.
“They used smokeless powder. We couldn't see their guns. We didn't have smokeless powder. When we fired our guns, you could see it all the way to Berlin! When they fired, you didn't,” Paris said.
Paris also fought in the Battle of the Rhine, crossing the bridge at Remagen into German territory.
The victory was marked 10 year later at the White House by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The heroism from that battle is still appreciated today—67 years later—by veterans of other wars.
Paris and some 175 other World War II veterans with ties to Montgomery County will be honored Wednesday at a special ceremony at the Silver Spring Civic Building. It's open to the public—one final chance, perhaps, to say thank you to those who were part of what’s being called “America’s greatest generation.”