|Survivors of the Northern Shoulder: Two US POWS|
|Ex-POWs Al Goldstein (left) and Frank Garret (right), honored guests at the opening of the Baugnez-44 Historical Center 17 December 2007.|
|Sixtythree years to the day before the photo above, Al Goldstein and Frank Garret weren't smiling. The men were among the many 99th Infantry Division soldiers taken prisoner 17 December 1944 by Jochen Peiper's 1st SS Panzer Regiment. The brutal "Kampfgruppe Peiper" pushed west through mud and traffic gridlock, overrunning surprised US troops between Lanzerath and Bullingen. Of the hundreds of US Soldiers taken prisoner, many were shot and did not survive to make the march to German POW camps.
Mr. Garret told a story of his capture which is more amusing now but wasn't at the time. Like soldiers of all wars and nationalities, Garret and his buddies had collected war trophies to send home. Inside Garrets jacket on the day of his capture hung several German medals, sewn into the lining of his jacket. On capture he realized immediately that possession of those medals would not be well taken by the SS troopers, and he would need the jacket in the snowy winter weather. Garret's quietly ripped the trophies from the jacket at his first opportunity and jammed them into the cracks of a wooden floor where the POWs were confined. The POWs moved on the next day, and the medals remained behind in the floor of the Gasthaus. On his December 2007 visit, Garret wondered if the medals were still there, undiscovered 63 years later.
Mr. Goldstein laughingly commented the museum dedication was "his chance to be a movie star" for a day. People crowded around to talk and meet the two men who had survived capture by the notorious SS Kampfgruppe Peiper. "One day, and then I'm a normal guy again", he laughed.
Not true, gentlemen. Meeting you veterans is better than meeting any celebrity because you're the real thing. And these are two who survived to tell the story.