Excerpt from TALE OF A TROOPER, copyright 2008 Elroy V. Huwe 101st ABN / 501 PIR, HQ On D-Day, Elroy jumped into Normandy, France and broke his leg. He was evacuated to England where he recovered.
"..............Training continued. Issuing equipment to replace some from the invasion. My personal equipment which was lost in the invasion was replaced.
Made new friends of new replacements such as C. B. Bonner, Robert Stepanski who became close friends. About 10 days after my Regt. returned
from the invasion, I went to the Medics and had the cast removed. What a relief but I still was limping badly. My friend Bill Bishop began kidding me
about being “sea borne.” At first the way he said it, kind of “pissed me off.” As I recall, I invited him out behind the tent area to settle it!
Nothing came of it and we laughed it off and became good Buddies. Many years we lost track of each other. In the 1990s I traced him down in California.
Met him couple of times at reunions and shared hotel room. He always sang me to sleep by telling stories in his Arkansas twang!
He made the “big jump”(died) in 2003. Bonner in 2004. Bonner was with me when I was wounded in Holland. August 12, 1944 we were alerted for combat mission. Being that I was limping badly, I was assigned to be sea borne and ground unit to join
the Airborne unit. We, the sea borne unit crossed the channel to France for a couple of days. then received the news that the mission was cancelled
because General Patton's 3rd Armor had over-ran the object being Chartres- Rambouillet. Back to base camp in England we went. In a weeks time we were alerted and went to the marshalling area again. Mission in the area of Lillie- Tournai. Gen. Patton's 3rd.Army beat
the Airborne mission again ! So back to Hampstead Marshall we go. Around August 15, 1944 we were alerted for a mission and sent to the Marshalling area. We learned that the code name for mission was
“Market Garden.” This was General Montgomery’s (British general) scheme, so therefore, we were under British command. This was the plan,
starting from the front lines which was south of Eindhoven in the netherlands and form a corridor to Arnhem, Holland in the north. The 101st Airborne Division to jump at Eindhoven. 82nd Airborne Division at Nijmegen and the British 6th Airborne at Arnhem.
Each Division to capture and hold the bridges, canals, railroads-- forming a corridor to the British 6th, while the British Armour with the British
Infantry was to drive up the corridor to Arnhem and cross into Germany.
16, 1944 I was called to Regimental Has. Co. and Captain
Burd with 1st.Sgt Bourdeleau began questioning me about
Buddies wanted to know what that was all about. When I
told them that I was going by
September 17, 1944. Operation Market Garden: We, the Glider Riders for this mission went to the landing strip to see and cheer our Friends and wished them well as they boarded the C47s to fly them to the drop zone (DZ) and start the mission. Equipment bundles slung under the planes containing medical supplies, ammunition, communication equipment and other supplies. With a roar the planes made their take-off runs using every foot available of the run ways.
We glider riders decided to remain at the landing strips to watch the planes return from the mission drop. We knew it would be about 3 hours or so
before they would return but we did not have much to do after we got the gliders loaded for the trip next day. Some time later we got the news that the drop had been made and that it had been a succuful drop, meaning that they had not met a strong enemy
opposition. Just a few hours to wait now. We were well off the run ways. I would say at least 50 feet. The planes began to arrive one after the other. A incoming plane radioed in that they
had some problems from anti-aircraft fire and that they were shot-up some and wanted an ambulance standing by. He made his approach which
looked pretty good. His wheels touched down and now the fun began! He veered off the run-way and headed right for us! We turned and began
to run to get the hell out of the way. Glanced over the shoulder and he veered in the other direction. We stopped running. He veered back headed
right for us! Once more we turned and ran. This went on for awhile. He finally got stopped to our relief. All this was caused by a tire that had been
shot out. We looked the plane over and noted several holes in the wings and other parts. Amazing that it still flew! September 18, 1944. Today is our turn! The glider is a CG4. Construction of it is very basic. Tubing covered with fabric- plywood floor- small wheels-with
skids to land on. Pilot and myself with a two wheeled trailer loaded with communication equipment. And a Cushman scooter for Message Center.
Controls were wheel and stick and rudder bar. Instruments--almost none! Compass and Altimeter. Our mode of power since we had no
motor---hooked up to the C47 with a nylon rope of a 2inch diameter. Icing glass for windows. Tow rope coiled up and hooked up ready to go.
As our tow plane starts to roll the rope begins to un-roll giving the plane some time to gain speed. A slight tug and we begin to move ahead for a
short run and we are off! As we are gaining altitude, I looked out the right window and noted that it was moving up and down. I looked out the left
window and I'll be darned if it wasn’t doing the same thing! I visualized a big goose flying and I began to laugh! We are just like a goose! The pilot is in
radio contact with the pilot of the tow plane. The glider is released by either pilot or if the glider gets a certain degrees, which I believe is 8 degree,
high or low or left or right of the tow plane the glider will cut loose. We are in a formation of V3 at about 1000 feet. Keeping a watch on those flopping
goose wings, but if one was to bid us farewell, there wouldn’t be a thing to do but pray that St. Peter would issue you the wings of an angel. About half way across the channel one of the gliders cut loose from the tow plane and down he went for a landing in the channel. The pilot did a very
good job of landing---just like a goose! Down came a P51 Fighter Plane and started to circle the glider. I looked back to the coast of England and saw
the wake of a air-sea rescue boat heading straight to the glider. The boat was honing on the radio signal of the P51 as it he circled the glider. I
thought that was a neat job of the Air Force and Navy and felt more at ease knowing that we were not alone. The pilot and his passenger, who was
another Trooper from my unit, were all right. He had a good story to tell when he rejoined our unit a couple of days later. Off in the distant we could see the coast of Holland and as we drew closer I could see that Holland was below sea level. We continued on toward
our LZ (landing zone). Now I saw in the distance what looked like black cotton balls. As we got closer I realized what it was. It was anti-aircraft fire!
And we were crossing the front lines. A few close ones but it seemed like there was an invisable hand that kept it away. Soon it stopped and we
arrived at our LZ and the pilot told me pointing down, “we are going to land there” and I am thinking “he must be nuts” as all I saw looking down was
a field of smashed gliders. All broken up, pieces laying around. Bodies laying around covered with what-ever was handy. All this is from the previous
flight. “And this guy says that he is going to land there, he is off his rocker!”All this going through my mind. I braced myself and hung on for dear life.
I had the surprise of my life. He landed it and we were still in one piece . Lifted the nose, as it was a front loader, and unloaded the glider. Looking around it appeared like our glider was the only one that was not wrecked.
Could it have been that God was the pilot? I took the cushman scooter and was pushing it to the assemble area when a Trooper from Service Company
asked “ why don’t you ride it?” I countered with “ride it? Hell, I don’t know how to start the damned thing.” “I do” he says. “ Well, take the damned
thing to message center then.” With that burden off my back, I started in the direction that I felt was right. My rifle at the port arm I was
approaching a German, what looked like a half-track, and it had been the victim of an English Tyfom fighter-bomber. Smoke coming out and I noticed
that there was a couple of figuers in the cab. That brought the hair on my back up. Then I noted that there was a light blue smoke coming out of their
ears! On futher observation, I noted that they were German females. How horrible! I left, and soon found the assemble point and got a ride in a Jeep to Veghel. Upon arriving at our CP(command post), Lt. Pu----came rushing up,
stuttering like crazy, “Hhh---u--ee, where is the s--c---ter?” I explained that a guy from service company was bringing it. Our C.P. was in a Doctors
home. And fox holes all over in his beautiful yard. But he and his family were happy to have us there. In general, the Dutch people seem to be happy to see us. People standing along the roads and streets waving their flags along with Old Glory.
Most people can speak English. Offering us milk and things from their gardens. Children are like all other from liberated countrys asking
“got any gum chum?” And the soldiers giving from their rations the chocolate bars. At this stage of Market Garden, things were fairly quite of enemy action. 101st. and 82nd.Airborne Divisions accompolished their part which was
taking control of Eindhoven, Veghel, Nijmegen, cannels, bridges and the road which became known as “Hells Highway”. Each day enemy action got
heavier and heavier. Casulities began to increase. September 22, 1944 enemy action had really heated up. Enemy artillery got heavier and enemy infrantry attacting our flank at Eerde and Schindle. Rear rations kitchen had prepared noon meal and brought to Regimental Command Post which tasted good to me, but of course some guys belly
ached about anything. About 2PM our Sergeant ordered C.B.Bonner and me to return one of the large pans to our aid station, which was about
2 blocks away, to be picked up. We dropped off the pan and left. Got about 100feet and across a church when German artillery started shelling
the area. C.B. and I ducked in a door way across from the church and covered our selves as best as we could. Artillery coming in.
It appears that the enemy is trying to knock out the steeple of the church. Our aid station is about 150 feet beyond the church and some of the
enemy fire is very near the aid station. WHAM! UGH---I am gasping for air. I have been knocked out of air! I thought it was from the concusion of the
shell which had fallen directly from us. About 40 feet! I got my wind back and Bonner called “ Buddy, you O.K.?” I replied, “yeah, dam I thought I was
a gonner.” Bonner took me by the hand and said “well, lets get the hell out of here” I was fully in agreement with his remark and we left with
Bonner leading me by the hand. We went back to our Command Post and I went to “my home away from home” which was my fox hole and sat on
the edge of it. Couple of minutes later I got very dizzy, world swillering around and I started to see all colors of poka-dots. For some reason I put my
right hand on my side. I felt wet. I pulled my fatique jacket up and looked. Blood was squirting out. I called to Bonner, “hey, I have been hit!”
He came over and looked and said “you sure as hell been hit” and he called over Primerano and both agreed that most certainly I had earned my
second Purple Heart. I will try to describe the wound. Right abdomen-- belt high. What ever it was grazed the handle of my trench knife, shattered the button for the
suspender, took half of the belt. Wound was about the size of a half dollar--in the center was a slit where the blood came from. Couple of the guys
took me to the aid-station and left. The Doctor and Medics checked it and told me “ you are going back to the rear to be evacuated”. Here is where
I made a dumb decision, I didn’t want to leave my unit. Who would do my job? So I started to talk and talk and finally convincing the Medics, with a
promise that I would come back every day to have the wound cleaned and re-dressed. I went back to my section and my Buddies were speech-less
to see me back. This all happened on September 22, 1944. 4 days after I had landed in Holland by glider. But there is more to the story. I held up my part of the deal with the Medics and reported to them for treatment. Couple of days later, I had seen
them and was walking down the hall way when German artillery started coming in. Landing close. Windows breaking , plaster falling. I saw a door
partly open and there were soldiers laying there covered up, I dove in between a couple of guys and covered up best that I could. After shelling
stopped I looked around and none of the guys were moving or talking. Then realized that they were dead! I had taken shelter in the temporary
morgue! Hey, I ain’t dead and I am getting the hell out of here. I peeked out the door to make sure no one would see me leaving. I didn’t want anyone
to think that resurrection day had began! Did not meet anybody in the hallway. Couple of days later I began to feel sick and noticed that the wound
was getting infected. Along with my team we were ordered to the Eerde-Schindel area where the German Infantry was starting a push. Sick or not
I did not report my condition and report for medical care. Who would do my job? I can not let my Buddies down was my distorted thinking. Our C.P. was near a Dutch windmill. I found a ready made fox hole which I took over. Feeling pretty crappy at this time. Setting on the edge of my fox
hole and scolding my-self for not reporting for sick call. When---ZING ---right past my head into the tree behind me! I grabbed my rifle and slide in my
hole. That son-of-bitch tried to kill me. And I started to scan the area to see where he was hiding because I was going to kill that bastard.
Some time passed and no luck of finding him. By this time I felt that I was running a fever and feeling weak. Sgt.Thompson and Cpl. Kohut came and
asked me how I was feeling. I told them pretty dam crappy. They told me that they had been watching me and felt that there was something wrong
because of how I was walking--all bent over. They called a medic. Medic came and checked me and told me that he was going to send my ass back to
the rear medic aid-station. He tagged me and gave me a big white pill of some sort. As I recall it was Cpl. Kohut that escorted me the first leg of my
trip back to Veghel field hospital. I arrived at the field hospital in Veghel feeling feverish and sore in the area of the wound. The Doctors checked me over and determined that I had
to be sent to a British Field hospital since we were under British control for the Market Garden mission. They told me to sit down on the chair while
they prepared a stretcher for me. Couple minutes later told me to get up and lay on the stretcher. I got about half way up and I PASSED OUT! When I came to, there were three Doctors over me checking the pulse, heart and the usual thing. One of the Doctors remarked “whew--we thought
we had lost you.” I was feeling really good at that point and asked “why do you say that for?” Then he told me “ you have been out for 48 hours
with tready pulse and a very week heart beat. How many of these did you get?”showing me the big white pill. I thought back and said “three.”
He answered, “three! christ thats enough to kill an elephant?” Somewheres on the way back from our front C.P. a medic or two had failed to record
it on my medical evacuation tag. We had to wait to begin the evacuation because the hiway had been closed by German artillery fire. After about a three hour wait the road
had been secured for traffic.They loaded me along with five other wounded and took us to a large city, I suspect that it was Eindhoven, to a very
nice hospital several stories high. Wheeled me away on a gurney to the elevator and up to third or fourth floor and parked me in the hallway by the
operating room. About every half hour or so, some one checked my heart and pluse for the rest of the night. In the morning they take me down
the elevator and out to the ambulance and to the air-port and loaded on an ambulance plane with several other wounded, and flew us to an
American hospital near Leicester, England. ..........................."