I left my Junior High School when I was 18 years old to join the Army and 3 more of my schoolmates. We were sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for our basic training, marching, firing guns, kicking and stuff like that. It lasted for four months and that was the last time I saw my schoolmates. We took classes and they decided what you were good for in the Army.
I was picked to do telephone lineman. They thought us to climb poles and how to splice wires. When that school was over I was sent to Camp Pickett, Virginia. This is where I first got into the 28th ID. I joined the field artillery the 109th battalion, Battery C.
From that day till we landed in France it was training on land, water in mud, rain and snow. Then in September we sailed to England.
Improvised shower with Jerry-can
We landed the 1st of October. And we started the same training over and over till July when we landed on Omaha Beach. In our battery we had 4 caliber 105 mm Howitzers and in our battalion we had an HQ and A,B,C batteries.
They put us in a hedgerow field about 15 miles from Percy and 20 miles from St-Lo. As a lineman I and several others laid lines to each gun and HQ and most of the time to our forward observer. Our C battery gave fire support to the 110th IR. When they moved up we moved to give them all the fire power they needed.
So most of the time we had to march and fight and sleep with the infantry.
After Percy, they mounted the infantry on trucks and we were heading for Paris.
Just before Paris they stopped us and our officers told us to clean our trucks, guns and to get a shave. That was for our parade in Paris. In 2 and a ½ hour we were on the other side of Paris and were in the war again. The next day in the outskirts of St-Quentin was a group of 88 mm German Artillery pulled by horses just in front of us. The leading trucks fired their .50 machineguns to kill the horses. The first gun section unhooked its gun and fired two rounds and that was it. The German battery was knocked out. Our captain howled “March Order !” and we moved again. We were near at the end of the line and as we passed by the pile of dead Germans and their horses we saw the farmers already cut the meat of the horses with their big knives.
"Joe" (arrow) with friends...1944
The next big fight was the Hürtgen. After laying out all our wires we dug a pit about 3 feet deep and 10 feet large. The logs we were using were 1 ½ feet large and build around our pit 3 logs high and putted other logs across the top with pine branches on top to keep the rain out. Our 105 mm’s were firing all day and night long. We took over a 105 mm-gun to allow one gun section to have a break at night.
The next morning we have to go out to patch the lines the Germans cut during the night by their shooting. It rained and snowed most of the time so that our truck were stuck in the mud. The Engineers build a road of cut logs and the MP’s were placed at each end of the road to halt traffic one end , then the other.
One day it was raining again and my buddy jack and I had to go out to patch up one of the lines again near one of the MP’s posts when they stopped about 6 trucks. They were full of replacements. Jack asked me for a dry match but I hadn’t one. Then one of the fellows in the first truck waved at us to give a dry match. We lighted our cigarettes and thanked him. Then we went on our way again to patch some other wires. The trucks were passing us again heading for the front. About 10 minutes other trucks came from the front and were full of stretchers. We reached the other stop point on the next MP post and one wounded fellow laid in the back of a truck and asked me : “Hey buddy can you tell me which outfit I’m in ?”. I looked at him and couldn’t believe me eyes. It was the same fellow that gave us a dry match.
So I told him he was in the 110th IR of the 28th ID.
At the end of November they pulled us out of the Hürtgen and we were sent to Bocholz, Luxemburg. We went over there to get some rest and get new replacements.
Bocholz was about 1 ½ mile from the Our river in the neighborhood of Hosingen .We would go up and look across the Our but couldn’t see anything by the fog but we could hear the Germans singing and hammering on wood. We would call back to headquarters and tell them. They could connect us to the Army corps but they told us not to worry. The priest of our village Bocholz asked us the next time we go up to our city at Our river to look for old toys, doll, wagons, etc … We found a truck full.
The priest was very pleased and on St-Nicholas day he invited all the kids and their parents to the big barn which was our mess hall. The priest dressed one of the men as S-Nicholas and let the truck with toys and St-Nicholas on board in the barn. The kids were singing Silent Night. Our mess sergeant had the cooks made cookies and we gave our soap, candies and smokes for a week. He wrapped each of these items in a napkin so that the priest could hand over to each kid a toy and a napkin. These were our 12 children and each one like clockwork would take a toy and thank St-Nicholas and the priest for the goodies in the napkin. Then they put the napkin in their mother’s lap. The mothers told them to help themselves but each one would take the smokes and hand it over to their father and then the soap to their mother, keeping themselves the candy. After that they ate the cookies. I will never forget these little faces singing Silent Night.
Then December the 16th at 05.00 AM we could hear guns going off over in Germany. Then we had one on the road about 100 yards from us. It tore up the road but cut our telephone wires. It was my turn to take care of the 50mm machine gun on a tripod. I just checked the gun to make sure it had loaded when one of the regular 50mm guards came up to me and said : “Joe we’re out of touch with headquarters. All lines are cut”. So off we went to our truck for some wire and there were also three other wiremen we had to walk with to the road.
The night was pitch black and it was difficult to work under these circumstances. Suddenly a shell exploded and short thereafter we heard singing. The 50 mm gun went off and thereafter some light flares were shot in the air. I was just standing in the middle of the road. Now if a flare goes off and you don’t move they can’t see you … unless you move. It took me 5 minutes to get to the side of the road.
Thank to God the sun started to come out and it seemed our machine gun team took apart a German machine gun group. We found about 12 bodies all blooded and plenty of wounded to carry back. One German was killed trying to hide in the small church door.
By 09.30 AM in the morning we went back patching the wires. This is when three Luxemburg Freedom Fighters showed up who wore “FFI” armbands and wore Belgian 38 mm. They looked like our 45 mm. They pulled about 5 or 4 Germans off the road and shot each one in the head. Our captain stopped them and told them to stop with shooting. It was still dark and our troops might mistake the noise coming from the Germans so we might be hit . That day our captain was shot in the leg about 05.45 AM. He maintained his command and used a rifle as a support and would be evacuated to the medic station only at 05.00 PM. He would be out for 4 months and the gunner was also hit in the cheek. Five others were shot that day. I can’t tell you how many Germans were shot but must have had plenty of wounded judging by all the blood on the road.
We held on to Bocholz until December the 18th when we heard over the radio in Wiltz : “We are closing station now. Hope to see you in Bastogne”.
I remember it started to snow. This covered us from place to place. We slept in the snow. We would move a mile or two set our 3 105mm guns up and fire a round or two and move a few miles away. We got to Bastogne December the 22nd and the 101st Airborne division was there. They asked us to set up our guns just outside of Bastogne. We got some hot coffee and “K”- rations. Then we fired our guns until we had nothing more to fire. The next morning the 23rd about 06.30 AM the Germans started to shell us. There was not a truck or a 105mm gun without a hole in it. All what was left after the artillery attack was a 1st Lt. And 21 men from the 101st Airborne Division and the remains of our battery 91 men in total. So we burned the trucks and the guns and marched in the snow in a single file. It snowed so hard, you couldn’t see the second man in front of you. We walked knee deep in the snow. We could hear the Germans talking and running their tanks, but we couldn’t see them … and they couldn’t see us.
A Sgt lead us with a compass to Neufchateau about 20 miles.
Nobody feel out on that trip. That night we got some warm food and coffee.
Thereafter we had to dig a defensive line all around the city of Neufchateau. It was December the 24th . On the morning of Christmas day at 08.00 AM a German plane flew over and dropped some bombs.
One of them blew our mess truck into pieces!
Koblenz Rhine-bridge 1945
Then on the 26th we got three truck and two jeeps and drove back to Olgnies, Belgium. In this place the population gave up their beds for us and fed us till the 15th of January 1945 when we received our new trucks and 105mm guns and were heading for Colmar, France.
Joseph “Joe” Ozimek
109th FA battalion, Batt. C
28th Infantry Division
“Joe” Ozimek was discharged from the army September the 20th ,1945. He was awarded : the Good Conduct Medal, the ETO medal, the Occupation of Germany Medal, the Victory Medal, the Battle of the Bulge Medal, a Belgian, Luxemburg and New York State Medal.
After the war thanks to his Army knowledge of climbing poles he got a job in a telephone company where he retired in 1980.
Joseph married in 1947 his wife Jean and got together two sons Thomas and Joseph Jr.Thomas had one son and three grandchildren . Joseph had one daughter and one son.
Editor: Alex Vossen