|Short History of the 394th and the 99th
The 394th Regiment was first allocated to the Organized Reserves, assigned to the 99th Division, 3rd Corps Area, 24 June 1921, and organized November 1921. The distinctive insigna of the 394th consists of a blue shield for infantrya nd a reverse pairle (upside down Y) that reprensents the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers flowing into the Ohio River. This represents the area in which the regiment was first allocated. The regiments motto is "Audax et Cautus" which means Bold and Wary.
The Division was Activated on November 15, 1942 at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi. The Division was sent overseas September 30, 1944 and sent back to the states on September 26, 1945 to Camp Patrick Henry, Virgina. They were deactivated finally on September 27, 1945.
The division was made up replacements, freshly drafted men and "Whiz Kids" from the Army Specialized Training Program after the Army discontinued the program in order to fill the need for Infantry replacements. Also, a number of Air Force ground crew and service members found themselves reassigned to the 99th.
The Division lists its major campaigns as: Ardennes
Remagen, Rhine, Giessenhausen. During its 151 days in combat, the 99th had a turn over rate of 85.1%. The toatal casualties is recorded at 11,987. Of that, 6,103 were battle related.
Overall, the 99th was a typical late war divison. It was almost a mirror image of its sister unit the 106th ID. However, The Divison proved itself to be hard fighting during the Winter of 1944. In truth, the "battle babies" slowed the German advance.
Lt. Lyle Bouck Builds the I&R platoon
When still at Camp Maxey, the first I&R platoon of the 394th really screwed up on a field maneuver. This resulted in the firing of the Regimental officer. The new Co then fired the S-2 and apointed Maj. Robert Kris to the position.
Maj. Kris returned all but four of the original platoon to riffle companies. He then pick Lt. Lyle Bouck to head up his I&R platoon. The new unit was to be hand picked.
Maj. Kris and Lt. Bouck worked together to build the platoon. They looked for men who had high IQ's,were athletic, and had least a high school education. After interviewing about 90 men, they settled on 32. That was the number called for in the table of organization.
Lt. Bouck appointed Sgt. Bill Slape to the position of Platoon Sgt. Together they trained the platoon. They soon became a well disiplined, well trained, physically fit unit. Some manuvers were ran where GI's wore german uniforms to add to the realism and increase the awarness during training.
The I&R platoon holds outside of Lanzerath
On December 12, 1944 the 1st Battalion of the 394th releived the 3rd on the right of the regimetal front. The I&R platoon of Headquarters company took up the position previously held by C company near Lanzerath. This position was the Right Flank of the 99th Divison and the V Corps right boundry. To the South was the 15th Calvary Group, VIII Corps.
The 18 man I&R platoon took up position in the already dug foxholes of C company. They were located in a treeline Northwest of Lanzerath. From this position, The I&R platoon could oberserve the highway that ran through Lanzerath on into Loshiem. Their mission was to run patrols and improve their postions. For five days the platoon did just that. They improved positions by building log roofs over their foxholes and ran patrols developing a very strong position. They also supplimented thier M-1's by getting BAR's and a .30 light machine gun. This was in addition to the .50 cal they had mounted on one of their seven jeeps. This was to be an educational experience for the 99th. The relitively quite postion allowed time for the men to adjust to life on the front line and practice the art of soldiering.
On the Morning of December 16, 1944 everything changed. The german Army opened with a mass artillery barage that lasted for two hours. The I&R platoon recieved no casualities from this action because of their improved positions. The artillery did, However, cut the communication land lines back to regimental headquarters. The only means of communication left was the platoons SCR-300 radio.
After the barage ended, the I&R platoon was ordered to send a patrol into the German held town of Loshiem. There they observed units of Germans marching to the South West, in the direction of Lanzerath and the 18 man I&R platoon. The patrol pulled back to infrom Lt. Bouck of the situation.
Upon return to the platoon, Lt. Bouck decided that the platoon would stay put. He belived their strong position would allow them to slow the German advance. With the information of a German column heading South West, Lt. Bouck called for Artillery on the German position. It never came.
The column of Germans soon came into sight on the road. They were marching in column formation with their rifles slung. Lt. Bouck recognized them as German paratroopers. (they were in fact from the 9th Regiment 3rd Paratroop Division.) It was obvious that they had no idea the I&R platoon lay in foxholes only 100 yards off. Lt. Bouck allowed the head of the column to pass. Before he could order the platoon to fire, a teenage girl(Tine Scholzen) ran out of her house and begain talking to the German Commander and pointing in the general direction of the I&R platoon. The Battle Babies held their fire because of the girl, and thus lost an opertunity to ambush the column. The German officer barked an order and the German paratroopers dove into the roadside ditches. At that point the battle begain.
The Germans begain to assult the I&R platoon's position from the front. They had to cross a snow covered gently rolling field and pass over a fence that ran paraell to the American position. The I&R platoon had their weapons zeroed on the fence line, and the jeep mounted .50 cal was in a defilade position that kept the Germans from comming from the south. This battle lasted most of the day. Again, Lt. Bouck radioed for artillery support. It couldn't be given to him because of problems on other parts of the line. He was told to, "hold at all costs!" Shortly after, the units radio was hit, and there was no more communication between the I&R platoon and the regiment.
The fighting in this sector was tough. The Germans assulted three times Early in the day, leaving hundreds of dead in front of the I&R platoon's position. Suprisingly, the platoon held strong and was doing quite well, but this would soon change.
Lt. Bouck sent two runners to regimental to get orders to pulll back. They were captured. At dusk, the enemy flanked Lt. Boucks position. Then they jumped from hole to hole cleaning them out.
Lt. Bouck was in a hole with Bill Taskanikas. When the Germans fired into the hole, it hit Bill in the face. Lt. Bouck surrendered.
Of the 18 man platoon, one was KIA and the rest captured.
Lt. Bouck spent his 21st Birthday, Dec 17, a prisioner of war.
The stand of Lt. Boucks I&R platoon is extreamly important in the battle. They were in fact, the anchor of the 99th Divison. If they had surrendered, or pulled out early the Germans would have then attacked the 394th's flank. After turning them, they could have linked up with the 12th Volksgrenadier Division helping to take the left flank of the 99th. Thus opening an opertunity for the panzers to rush to the Meuse River. Hind sight is 20/20, but what if? It is hard to belive that these 18 men of the I&R platoon did what they did on December 16th, after only being in Europe for a month.
Astor, Gerald. A BLOOD DIMED TIDE:THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE BY THE MEN WHO FOUGHT IT. (New York: Dell Publishing, 1992).
Della-Giustina, John. Capt. THE HEROIC STAND OF AN INTELLEGENCE PLATOON: A SYMBOL OF THE COMBAT ABILITY OF MI SOLDIERS.Availible: ( http://huachuca-usaic.army.mil/contlearning/infrastructure/media/mipb/janmar96/delagius.html) 7/16/2001
Wenzel, Raymond E. WORLD WAR II LIVING MEMORIAL: MEMORIES GALLERY. availible (http://www.seniornet.org/ww2/gallery/memories/rayw/rayw.html) 8/19/2001
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