- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 4, 2004

In a reunion of the military’s 10th Armored Division yesterday, some of the nation’s most senior patriots relished glorious memories as nearly 200 of the storied unit gathered at the World War II Memorial to lay a wreath and pay respects to the fallen.

“We are getting fewer and fewer and fewer of us, and this was a good opportunity for us to think of our brothers again,” said Tom Bubin, 82, who served about six decades ago as a sergeant in a 10th Division armored field artillery unit.

A military band played the national anthem as veterans, widows and family members stood by for a presentation of the division’s colors yesterday afternoon. Mr. Bubin laid a wreath at the foot of the World War II Memorial’s Atlantic Arch.

Although the memorial was dedicated officially at the end of May, yesterday was the first visit for most with the 10th Armored Division, which traditionally holds its annual reunions on Labor Day weekend.

Retired Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger Jr., 85, who rose from lieutenant to lieutenant colonel with the division’s field artillery during the war, said he was on hand when the shovels broke ground for the memorial. Yesterday was the first time he had seen the finished product.

“It’s tremendous and a well done monument to the millions of Americans that contributed to World War II,” he said. Reflecting on the role of the 10th Armored Division during the war, he said, “Our chief claim to fame is that we are defenders of Bastogne.”

The division served with the 101st Airborne at the heart of the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium, in 1944. Some of the men on hand yesterday were quick to point out that the 10th Division reached Bastogne “eight hours before” the 101st Airborne.

Some tried to try to shed a humorous light on the horrors of war. Dewey Limpert, 80, a corporal in an anti-aircraft battalion, reminisced about the freezing days that led up to one of the war’s bloodiest battles.

“I took my shoes off one night, and when I woke up the next morning, they [the shoes] were frozen.”

Don Nichols, 79, a corporal gunner on a Sherman tank, told how he had parked his tank in pitch darkness about a mile east of Bastogne. When he woke at dawn, he was startled to see a German tank parked only about 30 yards in front of him. The two tanks fired at each other simultaneously. Miraculously, Mr. Nichols’ tank survived.

The 10th division removed all military markings from its equipment and uniforms during the push to Bastogne and came to be known as the “Ghost Division.”

“We were up and down that German line like you wouldn’t believe,” Mr. Limpert said. “That’s why they called us the ‘Ghost.’”

It was done so “the Germans wouldn’t know what outfit they were up against,” Mr. Nichols added.

The healthy sense of humor of the men of the 10th Division remains intact. An information packet the group’s reunion committee circulated boldly announced: “The Ghost Division Is Coming To Washington September 3-5. We’re a little bent over, we’ve lost some hair and hearing, canes and wheelchairs are standard equipment.

“But in our hearts we’re still the feisty bunch that were the first ones to get in the way of the Nazis — half a million of them — during what some claim is the most monumental battle in U.S. history!”

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