USAMMCE Staff Ride to Bastogne, Belgium
On April 2, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center Commander Col. Erik G. Rude took his Soldiers on a staff ride to Bastogne, Belgium to visit the historical World War II sites located there. The Battle of the Bulge provides the opportunity to study firsthand accounts of the battle and to discuss lessons learned and how to shape future engagements.
The staff ride started at the Bastogne Barracks with a tour of the original Headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division. At this location, the acting commander of the 101st, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, gave his defiant reply of "Nuts" to the German commander's offer for the 101st to surrender. The tour focused primarily on the Siege of Bastogne and the units that participated in its defense. The Soldiers had a chance to see and hold many of the weapons and gear used during the battle as well as viewing a re-creation of the senior officers' Christmas meal. The tour concluded with a visit to the vehicle restoration center that displays numerous World War II vehicles from several countries to include tanks, half-tracks, wreckers and medical vehicles.
On their next stop, the group trekked into the woods near Foy, Belgium and stood in the actual foxholes of the paratroopers from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Since the weather that day was near freezing with driving winds and rain, it gave the Soldiers an appreciation of the tough conditions during battle and the sacrifice and courage of the men who refused to back down against impossible odds.
The staff ride concluded with a visit to the Bastogne War Museum and the Mardasson Memorial, which honors the memory of 76,890 American Soldiers wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge. The museum offered a unique perspective of the war narrated by four individuals whose stories guide you through history leading up to the start of World War II, into the Battle of the Bulge and the allied victory. It also allowed Soldiers time to reflect on the events that led up to the war and the sacrifices made during and after the war to recover.
Despite the weather, the USAMMCE Soldiers found studying and learning the history of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge informative and compelling and are ready for the next staff ride.
Gen. George C. Marshall once said, "But war is a ruthless taskmaster, demanding success regardless of confusion, shortness of time and paucity of tools. Exact justice for the individual and a careful consideration of his rights is impossible. One man sacrifices his life on the battlefield and another sacrifices his reputation elsewhere, both in the same cause. The hurly burly of the conflict does not permit commanders to draw fine distinctions. To succeed, they must demand results, close their ears to excuses and drive subordinates beyond what would ordinarily be considered the limit of human capacity. Wars are won by the side that accomplishes the impossible. Battles are decided in favor of troops whose bravery, fortitude and especially whose endurance surpasses that of the enemy's; the army with higher breaking point wins."