Old Bethpage Village Restoration
Round 1301 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, New York 11804
Americans who stood against all odds are paid tribute
Battle of Bulge veterans and the 19,000 G.I.s lost
are honored with flag raising at Museum of American Armor
On a muddy, misty December morning, veterans, elected officials and living historians gathered at the construction site of the Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Village Restoration to pay tribute to the Americans who withstood a murderous assault by German ground and armor forces coming out of the Ardennes forest in 1944.
History now calls it the Battle of the Bulge, belying the horrific casualties suffered by American forces with some 19,000 G.I’s killed and many more wounded. In the face of overwhelming firepower small groups of Americans with incredible courage delayed the German march on Antwerp while waiting for reinforcements who brought ultimate victory.
As reporters gathered in the muddy park field three, World War II armored vehicles belonging to the museum rumbled from behind the trees and positioned themselves in front of the podium. A crane with the American flag flying from its steelwork rose in the air as aging veterans snapped a razor sharp salute at the command of veteran Jack Hayne.
Battle of the Bulge veterans included William Mueller, president of the LI chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Sy Bosworth and Irving Greger , both of Plainview, and Angelo Pennestri of Bethpage. Greger was credited with knocking out a Panther tank, but he maintains it simply ran out of gasoline.
Business, government and law gather to honor our vets
Among those honoring the group were State Senator Charles Fuschillo and Assemblyman Chuck Lavine who braved bleak weather to shake the hands of the vets who attended, including a much later generation of G.I.s who served in Vietnam. Also joining them were leaders in law and business; Eileen Daly Sapraicone, Esq., who serves as the museum’s pro bono adjutant general, and Steve Napolitano, President and CEO of First Nationwide Title Agency.
Museum President and founder Lawrence Kadish stated, “When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn during World War II, the worst thing that could happen would be the arrival of a telegram. Strong men would shake and mothers would weep before they even knew what was inside that envelope. They knew – without being told a word – that a telegram in wartime was about death.
“And not just any death – but of someone they knew and loved.
“After the Battle of the Bulge there were a lot of telegrams. More than 19,000 of them. That battle remains a part of World War II that few talk about today and fewer still understand it. Yet it was about a murderous Nazi counter attack and the raw courage of American G.I.s who withstood it.
“While the Museum of American Armor is not yet completed, our mission has already begun – to honor all Americans who have worn the uniform and those who continue to protect us during the ongoing War on Terror,” he concluded.
Mr. Mueller told FIOS One News, “I lost so many good friends who were in the service with me for such a long period of time. I know I was very lucky to survive that attack and we have an obligation to remember those who did not.”
Napolitano, a resident of Rockville Centre, explained, “I chose to stand here with these veterans today because I know what they accomplished through courage and sacrifice in the snows of Belgium almost 70 years ago. My Dad was in Patton’s army and I believe everyone in America has a direct connection to the events of World War II. This armor museum will give us all better insight into that conflict and why we can never forget the lessons that generation continues to teach us.”
Staggering losses, yet the line held
Senator Fuschillo told the audience, “In weather far colder than this – in conditions that were lethal – unsuspecting American G.I.s found themselves the target of a massive counter offensive by the German Army in December 1944. Before the Germans were thrown back, nearly 19,000 American troops would die – the number remains staggering — but few Americans today appreciate what it took to hold the line and prevent the Germans from breaking through to the English Channel.
Assemblyman Lavine agreed, “It is fitting and appropriate that we should gather here – on this bleak winter day – and offer our thanks to those who made sure that Hitler’s last desperate gamble was a failure.”
Ms. Daly Sapraicone, of Upper Brookville, observed, “Standing with these veterans, one begins to understand the personal courage and sacrifice required by so many Americans who are asked to wear the uniform of our military. We have a responsibility to tell their story every day and embrace their legacy of freedom.”
The Museum of American Armor is scheduled to open its doors in the spring of 2014 and will feature almost 30 operational armor vehicles.