Bill Rhodes
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Which way is the enemy?Bill Rhodes — L Company, third battalion,
358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division

Which Way is the Enemy? Part III

By Bill Rhodes

We Fought With This Guy
After we pulled back across the Saar River we were sent North to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, I became very ill – was weak and could barely stand up. Two soldiers from my squad assisted me to the aid station. The doctor did not want me to stay there but one of the soldiers said to him, “Look, we fought with this guy. He wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t sick.” The other soldier said the same thing and finally persuaded the doctor to let me stay there at the aid station.

The next morning I was running a temperature and so the doctor sent me back to the hospital. I was in the hospital in England for 115 days with hepatitis and jaundice.

The two soldiers went back to the war. I wonder if either of them survived the war. I hope so as they helped save my life by getting me to that aid station and persuading the doctor to keep me there. Only a soldier who has been in combat would fully understand the complete implication of those words, “we fought with this guy.”

Omaha Beach - June 6, 1945
I am standing on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1945, exactly one year after D-Day. All is quiet on the beach and all is quiet at the cemetery at the top of the hill, where those who fell one year ago today are buried. Although thousands of people visit this place in years to come, today I see no one except for the four of us (the sergeant, the jeep driver, another combat soldier and myself.)

We stand looking out at the sea, each thinking his own thoughts. “The war in Europe is over and we four soldiers have survived the war. We are glad to be alive but we are awed by the number of soldiers who died this past year.”

Jeep AltarFaith, June 1944
Once during a lull in battle we were allowed to go back three hedgerows to listen to the chaplain hold a church service. We listened to him and also listened to the incoming artillery shells. He said, “I’m not going to try to kid you. Some of us are never going home. But let us resolve that those who do get home will do something worthwhile with our lives.”

Three years later I went to college and earned a B.A. degree and a teaching credential because I thought teaching would be something worthwhile to do. I taught school for more than 23 years.

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