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Vet examines the true cost of freedom
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To the Antigo Journal:

I am enclosing something I have written about experiences during World War II in the European Theater. I have long felt that very few people living today have the slightest idea of what it was like to be a combat infantryman during the war. So this tries to explain it. We lived like animals.

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Imagine that for the next few months you are going to live in a hole in the ground, not much bigger than to allow one or two people to lie down or sit in it. Now. Look at the clothes that you are wearing. You are going to wear them night and day, 24 hours a day for the next month or two: no pajamas, no clean clothes of any sort such as underwear, socks, shirt and pants. Now add a scarf, a couple of sweaters and a heavy jacket because your home in the ground has no central heating and no bathroom facilities and there is a foot of snow on the ground in the coldest winter in 100 years in Europe. Oh! Sleep with one eye open because not very far away are a group of people plotting to kill you.

But of course you don’t have the same hole-in-the-ground for one or two months. As you advance you have to keep digging new holes, but the ground is frozen so you use quarter pound blocks of TNT to loosen the soil.

Some days, if you are in a holding position for a while “cookie’’ may bring you a warm meal from the kitchen, which is behind the lines. (Not far enough behind the lines to keep from getting killed by a shelling.) Otherwise you live on K-rations and C-rations. A warm bed, clean sheets and a bath or shower are like a dream of heaven.

So what made us keep going? Probably a number of things but all tied together by a comradeship that cannot be imagined by anyone who has not experienced it. It is a sort of brotherly love forged by men who have gone through hell together and who have been willing to risk their son life to save their buddies’ life if necessary. A bond is formed that is almost religious and will last forever.

The term, “Freedom is Not Free,’’ is not just a patriotic saying to us. It is emblazoned in our hearts.

Bob Cromer

Antigo
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An artist’s rendering of the soldiers crossing the Remagen bridge under German fire. Bob Cromer was one of those who successfully made the dash.
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ANTIGO DAILY
JOURNAL
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JOURNAL
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612 Superior Street,
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

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