Ike Refice: "P.S. It Wasn't Fun"
A Silver Star, Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, four major engagements....in spite of sharing years of dinners and ceremonies, I never knew.  Ike's shared history with Wehrmacht veteran PzGn. Horst Przybilski exposed the impressive combat history of this unassuming 319th Inf. Reg 80th Division vet. His faithful support of US Veteran Friends Luxembourg allows us to visit every June. And as he puts it, "16 million guys in the service, 16 million stories. Now I'm one of them."
Ike originally volunteered for the Navy but switched to the Army on 4 July 1942, when  he " lost my independence, I was in the service as a PVT". He trained at Camp Forrest Tennessee and entered combat in France under General Patton's 3rd Army. Wounded in Sept 1944, he returned to duty and was awarded a Silver Star for action in Lixieres France. On to the Bulge in Dec 1944, where he fought against (and rescued) Horst Przybilski in Dahl Luxembourg in Jan 45. "Lots of counter attacks by those fellows, they didn't give us much time to take an afternoon nap. " On through Europe to Czechoslovakia. "The war was over, that's all that mattered to the guys I ended with."
Ike Refice (L) shakes hand with German vet Horst Pryzbilski in June 2009.
Says Ike about saving the German from certain death at Asterhof that day: "Horst saved my life, too - he missed me!"
In a strange twist of circumstance, Ike is good friends with Helen Patton Plusczyk, granddaughter of his former commander General George Patton. The General's greatgrandson Ingmar joined the group this year in Luxembourg. Every year they picnic at the Dahl farm, site of the vicious battle on 8 January 1945.
The day of the battle was bitter cold, "too cold to be checking out a war. This was our assignment, we had to do whatever would take place...The training days are over, now it was real." Ike was bonded to his buddies and refused two field commissions and a transfer to a photo unit. He explained,  "I started out with some of these guys from day one and wasn't interested [in] leaving them unless I was KIA. However, I did accept a 1st SGT rank in the final days. A show-off chevron when I arrived back in the states. It wasn't long I discovered, who cares?"
Post-war, Ike became a newspaper photographer in NY and Scranton PA. He was a passionate skiier for 45 years and met his wife Kathryn on the slopes, later doing volunteer research in development of the largest ski area in PA. Now that their family is grown they split their time between PA and Florida, "constantly on the go". Community service, veteran events, traveling  - Ike  has never really slowed down. 
With characteristic humor, Ike had a surprise for his German friend Horst Przybilski at the June 2009 Luxembourg/American Friendship Week.  Horst opened Ike's  package in front of a crowd to find a one-of-a-kind shirt: "No. 1 POW" at Fort Devens Massachusetts, where he spent time after Ike saved him at Dahl. The former enemies shook hands once again, and the celebration of their unlikely friendship continued. Next year, same time, they'll do it again.