- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hunkered down yesterday in a sandbag bunker, National Park Service Ranger Warren Suyderhoud sipped from a tin cup and clutched his rifle as a brisk, swirling wind spun dirt and gravel around the tiny space.

Though Mr. Suyderhoud looked like a U.S. solider in a sparse combat existence, the scene at the National World War II Memorial on the Mall was a re-creation of the Battle of the Bulge to commemorate its 61st anniversary.

“It gives visitors a visual, tangible connection with one thing that the war represents,” said Mr. Suyderhoud, who with fellow ranger, Mark Ragan, grew a scruffy beard and dressed head-to-toe in an authentic uniform for the role.

The battle started Dec. 16, 1944, with the Allied Forces withstanding weeks of fierce German attacks, which severely weakened the German army and expedited its defeat.

More than 1 million men, including 600,000 Americans, fought in the battle — the largest on land for the United States during the war.

The battle also was the last big German tank offensive. It cost the Nazis 120,000 men, nearly 2,000 planes and more than 500 tanks.

Though Mr. Suyderhoud and Mr. Ragan stayed holed up in the 3-by-5 bunker for most of the day in near-freezing temperatures, they said the soldiers being portrayed had it much worse.

“We’re lucky,” Mr. Ragan said. “For the guys who fought in the battle, it was the coldest winter in memory at that time, a lot colder than what we’re experiencing today.”

He and Mr. Suyderhoud depicted “Willie” and “Joe” — World War II characters created by famed cartoonist Sgt. Bill Maudlin, also a member of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division and a Purple Heart recipient.

Sgt. Mauldin later worked for Stars and Stripes, the U.S. soldiers’ newspaper.

He ran afoul of Gen. George S. Patton because of his cartoons. However, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe during the war, told Gen. Patton to leave Sgt. Mauldin alone because the cartoons gave the soldiers an outlet for their frustrations.

“His thing was the common soldier,” Mr. Ragan said. “He didn’t pull any punches on what these guys went through and what their attitudes were.”

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