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Experiencing War (Companion to the PBS Series -- The War: A Ken Burns Film) Stories from the Veterans History Project

Episode Six: “The Ghost Front ”
December 1944 - March 1945

The Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s final major offensive of the war, began in December 1944 in Belgium’s Ardennes Forest. It not only slowed down the Allies’ drive to the Rhine River; the winter weather, the coldest in Europe in decades, took a huge toll on troops on both sides. The Pacific Theater’s most dramatic moment came during the battle to take Iwo Jima, when U.S. forces raised the American flag on Mount Surabachi, the island’s volcanic peak that was a honeycomb of Japanese defensive bunkers and tunnels.





D Day Rescue, Omaha Beach, Rosenblum, Walter, 1919- photographer.
The price of Iwo Jima. Photograph shows the Fifth Marine Division cemetery where some of the 4,189 U.S. Marines killed during the battle of Iwo Jima are buried. Also, an American flag at half-mast in tribute to the late President Roosevelt, and Mount Suribachi are in the background. 1945, Befeler, Murray, photographer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Battle of the Bulge
Image: Margaret Henry Fleming

"How did I feel through all of this? Scared to death, naturally..."

Margaret Henry Fleming's story

Image: William A. Foley, Jr.

"I was moved to give him the drawing. I tried to rescue it from his body some months later."

William A. Foley, Jr.'s story

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"'...We will be back with reinforcements.' Not exactly words to warm the cockles of our hearts."

Leon E. Kent's story

Image: James H. Langford

"We moved past the prisoner cage and saw six to eight German prisoners there..."

James H. Langford's story

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"We didn't know actually what was going on; all we knew was that the Germans were attacking."

Joseph Shimko's story

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"You hate to lose. I mean, you hate to say, 'I give up and I surrender.' But it was a real relief..."

Guy Martin Stephens' story

Iwo Jima
Image: William B. Allen

"When they fire those phosphorous shells there at night, you could hear the screamin'."

William B. Allen 's story

Image: Kenneth E. Bramlett

"...The first few times I wasn't scared, but this time [on Iwo Jima] I was really scared."

Kenneth E. Bramlett's story

Image: Gilmon Brooks

"I'm thinking, This must the end; the island must be secure."

Gilmon Brooks' story

Image: John L. Cockburn

"I was glad I was there for the history of it, same for Pearl Harbor."

John L. Cockburn's story

Image: Hoyt B. Condra

"I told a buddy sitting beside me, 'My God, they're killing them all.'"

Hoyt B. Condra's story

Image: William J. Dolan

"There was little use for a dentist on the battlefield."

William J. Dolan's story

Image: Jesse Gibbs

"Somebody whispered to me, 'You know what you're holding in your hand? A land mine.'..."

Jesse Gibbs' story

Image: Herb L. Hammond

"You can't see 360 degrees, and every crack and every crevice is potentially an enemy."

Herb L. Hammond's story

  Home » The War: Episode Six
  The Library of Congress
  September 19, 2007
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