Updated: Nov 10, 2019
Clem, the soldier in the middle, grew up on a farm with twelve brothers and three sisters in the American Midwest. Before the war, Clem worked as telephone lineman, stringing up the first telephone wires in the state of Nebraska. When the war broke out he joined the Nebraska National Guard's 134th Regiment as a Technical Sergeant and was assigned to the Radio & Communications team in the HQ Company, 1st Battalion. Clem's knowledge and skill in laying telephone wire and the use of the new FM Radios was critical during the Battle of Normandy and in the Battle of the Bulge. Clem and his unit fought all the way from Normandy through the Bulge and into Germany.
Clem and his Infantry comrades represent the "Dough Boys", the common foot soldiers who did not get any great recognition for all of their hard work and sacrifices that they undertook. They fought their way through the hedgerows, mud, rain and snow - from the landing on the beaches in Normandy to the outskirts of Berlin. The average life expectancy of a front line soldier was two weeks. Losses (death, capture and wounds) were so high they had to replace the entire unit three times (300 percent casualty rate). Somehow a small group of the original cadre made it through the war. Clem was one of them.
In the Battle of the Bulge - Clem and the men from the 134th / 35th Infantry Division were sent in (along with Patton's tanks) to relieve the soldiers and citizens who were surrounded by the Nazi troops. Clem's 1st Battalion were the first infantry soldiers to make contact with the 101st around Bastogne. Their arrival coincided with Hitlers SS troops last attempts to take the town. These men stood firm and held back the final offensive of Hitlers troops and then they started to turn the tide and push them back into Germany. The final liberation of Belgium and Europe from the death grip of Nazi tyranny had begun.
I choose this song - Wichita Lineman - about the lineman for the county, who is willing to go out in all types of weather, be it the heat of the summer, or winter snowstorms, to keep the lines up and running, searching in the sun for another overload (i.e. a break in the line);
I hear you singin' in the wire, I can hear you through the whine And the Wichita lineman is still on the line ....
During the war the lineman kept the front line troops in contact with artillery and airplane support. Without these telecommunications the front line soldiers would have been lost in the chaos of the battle and overrun. The infantrymen therefore kept special care of the radio and telephone lineman.