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December 22, 2013

'Bulge' veterans honor those who didn't come home

TRAVERSE CITY — Sixty-nine years ago, Maury Cole of Fife Lake and 89,500 other American soldiers spent Christmas, New Year’s Day and most of January outdoors in one of Europe’s coldest winters during the 41-day Battle of the Bulge.

More than 19,000 American soldiers and an estimated 67,200 to 100,000 Germans died in Nazi Germany’s last-ditch surprise attack to derail the Allied invasion of Germany. It was World War II’s biggest and costliest land battle.

Cole was 18 then, and slept in foxholes and pup tents without floors at night as he fought Nazi troops in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge.

In 1992, almost a half-century later, Cole founded the state’s first and only Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge chapter in Traverse City to honor those who never made it home. For the last 21 years, members met for an annual dinner on Dec. 16, the day the battle started in 1944.

The few who survive today met last week for their annual meal.

Please go to the Northern Living section to read more about the veterans, their families and friends who pay tribute to them.

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