|424th Infantry Regiment
106th Infantry Division
From Stars and Stripes:
January 13, 1945
With the 106th Infantry Division
It was a grudge fight for "A" Company all the way - a grudge fight founded on the death of a leader.
They started on the attack like the other members of the 424th Infantry Regiment of the Lion Division methodically cutting slices out of the Bulge, methodically cutting down Von Rundstedt's "grab plan" troops. They had a score to settle, for many of their buddies had fallen in the initial Ardennes breakthrough, But it was the death of Bob McKay that spurred them to greater accomplishments.
The first objective was the Belgian Town of La Vaux. Before the company jumped off, Lt. Donald W. Beseler of Marshfield, Wisconsin, directed reconnaissance and set down every strong point and crossroad. When the company attacked, they had only to call for target one, then on two. "A" Company moved in fast. The whole business was too much for the Germans, and they took off in such a hurry that the company got only 11 prisoners. This was Beseler's work.
The first objective taken the company advanced across the country toward Coulee. They were skirting a woods, moving fast, when out of the woods came mortar, machine-gun and small arms fire. CO 1/Lt Robert G. McKay, jumped into action. His men knew what to expect.
Into the woods went the men from "A" Company. Sgt Everett S. Hillard, of Santa Cruz, California and his 60mm mortar section were getting tree bursts. The German mortar and machine-gun fire slowed down. The battle was reduced to M-1s and bayonets.
Pvt Edgar H. Stoopes of Springfield, Missouri, said, "I saw a bunch of the Jerries scurrying off like rats who didn't know where to go. We finished them off fast." Soon the woods were littered with Germans. "A" Company moved on.
The advance rifle platoon found itself pinned down with heavy machine-gun fire. An armored self-propelled 88, at the bend of the road had grazing fire across the whole area.
When the fire stopped, several of the men started across the road to get into position to return fire. McKay saw the gun swing around.
Jumping to his feet, he let go with his M-1. Back swung the machine-gun full blaze. McKay succeeded in drawing the fire away from his men, but gave his life to do it.
To a man the doughboys let go with their weapons. The armored vehicle streaked off.
"A" Company had another score to settle.
The ground in front of Coulee was the next objective. The Germans had assembled a large force there. Artillery and mortar fire covered the area. "A" Company went into the attack "like men possessed". -- "I guess every one of us kept thinking about Lt. McKay all the time. We were just plain mad," Pvt Millard Stokes, of Foriageville, Missouri, said.
Nothing could hold them back. 1st Sergeant Wallace G. Rifleman, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, had several shrapnel wounds in his chest. When the medics insisted that he be evacuated, he told them to go to Hell, and led an attack which cleaned out a machine-gun nest.
It was that way all along the "A" Company sector.
Page last revised
James D. West