Suwannee Democrat

Local News

November 7, 2006

Corporal tells WWII memories

Retired Cpl. Jack Rogers knows the horrors of war and its emotional effects.

Rogers, 82, served in the United States Army in the 82nd Airborne Division where he fought in WW II in 1944 and 1945. He served in the Third Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

In the war his unit fought through five months of continuous combat.

The Battle of the Bulge broke out Dec. 16, 1944, the day after Rogers' birthday. Convoy took the unit to Manhay, Belgium, where Rogers had his first full-scale encounter with the German Army.

In the Manhay sector, the unit was in combat for 43 straight days without any breaks during the worst winter on record.

Rogers was wounded in the Manhay battle. A German tiger tank shot down five houses made out of stone boulders. He was in the downstairs part of one house when they were leveled.

"I was buried up to my armpits. The stones were hot because of the friction from the shell fire," he said.

Rogers' unit dug him out of the rubble 45 minutes later. Fortunately, he suffered only a cut knee and injured leg.

The next battle, in the Ardennes forest, troops fought in three feet of snow. It was about 11 degrees and the snow was heavy.

"It was so cold that 10 percent of the men got frost bite or frozen feet," Rogers said, noting that the feet of his closest buddy were left completely black.

The unit slept in basements and bombed out houses, as well as out in the cold.

The fiercest battle Rogers faced was at a minefield in Berstein, Germany. This incident also resulted in the most casualties.

"We lost about 65 men in just a seven-eight hour period there," Rogers said.

Everett Rice, a man Rogers described as his good buddy, was the first killed in that battle.

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