Monday, November 17, 2008

My Brother Moishe

My brother Morris was in the
Infantry of the 80th Division
at the Battle of the Bulge.
The 80th Division,one of General Patton's
Elite units, arrived in France in
early August of 1944.The Division
suffered over 17,000 casualties
including almost 4000 dead
and missing in action.
Morris joined the Division in the
States and landed on the beach
57 days after D Day.
The Division had seasoned troops
at the Battle of the Bulge.
Morris was 2 years younger than I
and married the love of his life,
his childhood friend,
a Seward Park High school classmate,
Selma, while he was in the service
of the United States Army.
Their daughter Carole was born
while he was serving overseas.
During the Battle of the Bulge his
Division was isolated in the open,
under constant sniper fire in extreme
winter weather conditions.
Their foxholes were covered with
snow and ice and eating K rations.
Unable to change clothing to keep dry,
he and hundreds of others in the Division,
came down with a debilitating
condition called Trench Foot.
That is:
Frozen feet and toes because of
the long enduring exposure to
freezing temperatures and the inability
to change or care for their feet because
of wet shoes and socks..
Many of the Infantrymen had severe
complications that demanded surgical
removal of one or more of their toes.
When the battle ended, Morris
was hospitalized outside
of the town of Liege.
The Red Cross sent me a message
that he was in hospital.
No idea of his state of being
I asked my CO to please let me
go to see him.
My CO, sent my First Sgt.and me,
without papers,
without the Captains blessing,
with a weekend pass to Paris.
First Sgt. Hart got us to the hospital
in 5 hours from Cherbourg to Liege.
Moishe was in bed and in great pain
and I was so happy to see that
we made it and he wasn't dying,
fell on him to hug him.
"Get off " he yelled," do you want to hurt me"
"No hugging" he continued, aloud, "what
are these GIs gonna think."
He held me close and pulled
a loaded P38 from under his pillow
and asked me to take it because he
thought it would be stolen
while he was asleep.
He had disarmed a German Officer
of his Luger sidearm, the P38.
He was happy to see me and very
happy to see me go because of the pain.
One month later he was sent for
R and R (rest and recreation) to Luxembourg.
I met him there and we took some pictures.
He had gone to Switzerland and gave me
a wristwatch for my wife to be girlfriend, Bea.
But that's another story.
Next month would have been his 84 birthday.
I intend to celebrate that day with
his daughter Carole and
husband Bill in a couple of weeks.