It was somewhere in Europe, 1945ish, and my granddad had been fighting Nazis for quite a while. The Battle Of the Bulge had taken it’s toll on the guys. There was snow everywhere, and though the war was about to end, tensions were still pretty high. This was enemy territory and there were still Nazis roaming around… and some of them were not ready to surrender.
Back in those days, the soldiers were simple men. My grandfather grew up on a farm in a small town. Fighting wasn’t a career choice for them. They were doing what they had to do… answering the call from their country. They didn’t get free college, nice benefits, or sign-on bonuses. The politics of war didn’t matter. My grandfather used to tell me “We did what we were told.” They were proud of being ‘grunts’ and nothing in the world was more important than the guy next to you in the foxhole.
Back to our story.
There was a patrol to be run, and my granddad was chosen along with another guy. The two of them would go out through the countryside looking for the last remnants of the Nazi army to engage, yell obscenities at, and generally create havoc with until they either died or gave up. In other words, their orders were “Go out and get you boys some Nazis!” So the two soldiers set out on what would become one of their final patrols of the now almost over war.
They shot the shit as they were walking, mostly about how fucking cold it was and being excited over the good Kentucky Bourbon they had waiting for them back at camp. The Nazis had just surrendered and they had seen their share of combat in the last few years, so a walk around the countryside wasn’t too bad of a deal even if it was cold as all hell. At this point all they wanted to do was go home. They thought they had already seen the worst… then they walked around a blind corner.
Standing in front of them were 60 of some of the best trained soldiers the Nazis had to offer, the notorious SS. All fully armed and standing in formation. Needless to say, bricks were shat.
The two Americans raised their weapons, in some sort of desperate attempt to retain honor in a situation when you know you are about to get your ass handed to you in every way possible and your chances of winning are exactly no fucking way in hell.
My grandfather used to tell me of this moment in time. I’m sure the other guy told his grandkids. He thought he was done. Right at that moment he said to himself, “Well, that’s that.” There was absolutely no way the guys would get out of this alive, and they were both all too aware of this fact. Then, the unthinkable happened.
The Germans didn’t raise their guns. One who spoke English stepped forward. He announced they had been wandering the land in search of Americans and were glad they finally found some. He then submitted his official surrender to the two guys standing in front of him who had just pissed themselves. Of course, they did the civilized thing and graciously accepted.
The two guys they sent out returned from patrol with 60 German SS soldiers held prisoner and one of the best ‘oh shit’ stories anyone has ever told. Surviving a war isn’t always about being a bad ass. Sometimes, you also need incredible luck.