Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006
Six World War II Army veterans were honored on Friday, August 11th, at the White House Visitor Center in downtown Washington. The surviving veterans of the 14th Tank Battalion of the 9th Armored Division were greeted by NPS White House liaison Ann Bowman Smith and thanked for their service to their country, including their stand at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, which allowed the 101st Airborne to dig in for a defense of the city, and their critical taking of the last remaining bridge across the Rhine River at Remagun, Germany.
Elements of the battalion led the taking of the Ludendorff Bridge as the German army attempted to blow it up in March, 1945. The division then held the bridge for ten days, allowing men, tanks and equipment to pour across the Rhine as the Allies built pontoon bridges across the river. Although the Americans held the bridgehead, the Germans were still not ready to give up their efforts to destroy the bridge. Twenty-one fast bombers flew in to attack the structure, but they were unable to destroy it. German Navy divers attempted underwater attacks, but arrived too late to finish off the weakened structure. The taking of the Ludendorff Bridge was credited by military officials as accelerating the Allied push into Germany, thwarting the Nazis and advancing the end of the war in Europe.
Officers from the U.S. Army Joint Force Headquarters, National Capital Region, of the Military District of Washington (MDW) presented the veterans with certificates of recognition, MDW challenge coins, and a letter from Major General Galen B. Jackman, the districtâs commanding general.
The veterans honored were C. Windsor Miller of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, Howard Best of Taylor Mill, Kentucky, Robert (Bob) Janos of East Lake, Ohio, Clemon Knapp of Rupert, West Virginia, Ira Mullins of Columbus, Ohio, and Carl Shell of Junction City, Kansas.
Elements of the MDW Fife and Drum Corps performed for the 100 family members, friends and visitors in attendance. Ranger Mike Moreno presented an interpretive overview of the military and battle connections with the White House and Presidentâs Park. Following the ceremony, the veterans visited the World War II Memorial and heard an interpretive presentation by ranger Brad Burger.