18 November, 2017

Bahlau, Fred

Service: ArmyUnit: 101st Airborne Division

I would like to blog today to tell you about a man named Fred Bahlau who I have known for six years.  Fred was born in 1923 in Michigan.  He enlisted in the Army where he soon volunteered to become a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.  Fred started his training at Ft. Benning and Tocca Georgia for jump school.  As a trainee he would jump first off a 34′ tower and then to a 250′ tower.  If they did this correctly he would make five jumps out of a airplane to earn his jump wings.  Fred made the jump into Normandy France on D-Day June 6th 1944.  Can you imagine jumping out of a airplane at night behind enemy lines with everything the German Army the Wehrmacht could throw at you to kill you, that takes a lot of guts, which is what these men had.  Fred told me that where he felt like he was closed to being killed was on the Carentan Peninsula.  While men all around Fred were killed or injured he came through D-Day and the next 45 days in constant combat. The  next combat that Fred was involved in was in Holland in what is called Operation Market-garden.  This was commanded by British General Bernard Law Montgomery.  Fred jumped into Holland on Sept. 17th 1944.  The  101st and the 82nd American Airborne as well as the British 1st were involved in this jump.  It was very bloody and hard fought.  Fred was the recipient of two Silver Stars during his time in combat.  He was in such vicious fighting that he was given two battlefield promotions because of the death and injury of the officers in front of him.  The next battle that WW II history enthusiasts will know about was the Battle of the Bulge when the 101st was completely surrounded at a town named Bastogne  Belgium which lay at the intersection of seven highways that the Germans needed to breakthrough the Allied lines to the port of Antwerp.  The 101st Airborne was very short of ammunition, food, had only light weapons and no cold weather gear with the temperature dropping well below zero.  Fred was so frozen that he found out that he could get help for his legs which had given him troubles since the winter of 1944 in 2006.  They could not be re-supplied by air because of the cloud cover.  They also could not get fighter plane or bomber support because of the weather.  This the battle that a famous quote by one of our American Generals when asked if he was willing to surrender all of his troops to stop a completer annihilation. The General was Anthony McAuliffe and his answer was   NUTS though the Germans did not understand the term completely they got the idea.  General George Patton turned a entire Army group in a maneuver that is still studied today because of how complicated it was.  The 3rd Army broke the siege of Bastogne and Fred still fought until about the 17th of Jan. 1945.  He then fought right up until April of 1945.  I have a picture of 1st. Lt. Fred Bahlau setting in Herman Goring’s automobile,

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