By Jennifer Martin - email
Kendall Quinn survived the invasion of Normandy and perilous journeys as a motorcycle escort for fuel and ammunition convoys. One of his most memorable missions came to him nearly by happenstance.
"I went by to get my mail and a captain came out. He said, 'See that truck? Forget where you're going and follow it.' It was headed to Bastogne, Belgium. And I didn't know it. The truck was loaded with soldiers. We got into Bastogne about 2:00 in the afternoon. 4:00 the Germans had it surrounded. And I was the only traffic motorcycle in Bastogne. I happen to come to a street corner across the street from the 101st Airborne commander.
I look back up the street and I see a German motorcycle with a sidecar on it with a big white flag on it. He pulls up to the 101st tent. This German officer told the 101st Airborne commander to surrender or we'd be blown off the map that night. You know what his answer was? Nuts. That's all he told him. Nuts."
With that, the Americans knew a threat was eminent, and they started warning the civilians. Many chose to evacuate their homes and venture into the snowy darkness. Meanwhile, the allied troops prepared for the attack.
"As those men, German soldiers, was coming trying to come in, the 101st had already dug in, had their guns set just right. When those men got close, they mow them down, just like grass. The next morning, you could walk 200 yards and never step on nothing but a dead soldier. They bombed that town. They strafed that town. They done a pretty good job but they didn't take it. That 101st airborne held it."
Once Patton got word of the attack, he left the front lines of the battle of the bulge and led the Third Army to Bastogne.
"The next morning about 9:00 it felt like the earth was shaking. Here he come I don't know how many hundred tanks he had, right through the middle of Bastogne. He had one jeep in front of him, he was standing up in his jeep with his dog sitting on the seat behind him, saluting every soldier he come to."
As the war drew to a close, Quinn was selected to sail toward Japan to serve on the Pacific front. He was on the way there when the atomic bomb was dropped. He is still amazed that despite the danger and hardship they faced, so many of his brothers in arms survived. Almost everyone who was with him in the Normandy invasion made it home.
"There was 28 of us. 27 came home. One man, got killed after the war, on my motorcycle. But 27 of us made it home."
The day after he got home, Quinn married his sweetheart. He went back to the stock yard where he worked when he was drafted... and has been there ever since.
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