By Jennifer Martin - email
Vernon Brumfield was 16 years-old when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"I became alarmed that the Japanese had the audacity to attack the United States. I was somewhat appalled, startled. I had mixed emotions about aggressive activity. I heard on the radio about fear, aggression, annihilation, and destruction and wondered what in the world was going to take place in this great nation of ours," Brumfield said.
When he turned 18, he was drafted.
"I swore my allegiance and so doing I was sworn in to the U.S. Army," Brumfield recalled.
After training, he joined the 589th Field Artillery Battalion, 106th Division.
They shipped off for Europe on the U.S.S. Wakefield and spent about a week in England before heading to Normandy.
"We were in the second wave. We were not in the 1st wave to strike Normandy, which it was hit June the 6th. But we went down the Seine River into Rouen and we went on across to of course, France, Belgium and Luxemburg to the Seigfried Line," Brumfield said.
They replaced the 2nd Division in the Schnee Eifle area in western Germany.
"We had about a 28 mile sector to defend in that area. And I may say that no one thought that there would be a direct attack in that vicinity. In fact in was one of the greatest battles in the European event in World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. In fact the SS Battery Division hit our outfit, spearheaded right through it," Brumfield added.
"I was behind the 50 caliber machine gun when the SS came in. We'd been ordered by Col. Kelley to shoot those Germans as they come across the open field of snow, which we did. We went to get munitions. As we departed, we went along a valley and in so doing we joined another group of individuals.
The next morning we went back to reorganize. We was marching back trying to get back to St. Vith, that was division headquarters. We was attacked from above as we was marching in a column below. And I jumped from the convoy, truck and I looked up and people were being slaughtered. And later I wound up at motor pool. Which three days later was encircled by Germans. And an officer was sent up under a flag of truth. And he was shot and killed and they bombarded us for about 8 hours," Brumfield said.
When a second officer went up to surrender, a quiet fell and Brumfield got his first sleep in days. When he woke up, a German was standing there, pointing a bayonet six inches from his chest.
"I didn't want to surrender. Wasn't nothing I could do. As I marched out we went back by where that column had been annihilated and destroyed. Dead bodies everywhere, pieces of artillery, and guns and dead soldiers scattered everywhere."
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