327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
Born April 29, 1925, in Jenkins, Kentucky
WWII Service: 1942-46
By the time 19-year-old George arrived on Bastogne’s battlefields, life in his small, coal mining hometown seemed a world away. He’d already survived the Utah Beach landing, midair aircraft malfunctions over the Netherlands, flooded fox holes, booby traps, enemy fire—shrapnel from German artillery lodged in his shoulder would remain for the rest of his life—and the devastating losses of comrades.
Fighting in the Ardennes brought the war’s horrors and sacrifices into even greater focus for George, as in the aftermath of a near-fatal bomb explosion: “I found two of my fellow soldiers lying on top of me. Before I could pull myself free, blood from their wounds was running down my face. As far as I could tell, I was saved by their deaths.”
George’s combat leadership earned him quick promotion and several medals, including a Purple Heart, though he discovered that processing his war experience was a different sort of battle. “It took me a long time to get my brain straightened out, but our generation is, of course, different. I believe we were so thankful for having survived. We accepted the horrors of war differently than later generations. But you never forget. It’s a hard drive that can’t be erased.”