World War II veteran John Cocklereece says his most unforgettable experience took place on Dec. 20, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge.

"It was during a breakthrough by the Germans of our lines. The Germans would air-drop saboteurs during the dark of night, and they would infiltrate our lines, kill our troops and perform other acts of sabotage. It had been rumored that the Germans were to drop more saboteurs into the National Forest, which had fire breaks 100 feet in width. The Germans would drop their soldiers into the fire breaks and they would infiltrate our lines. The weather was terrible; we had six inches of snow on the ground and a temperature of 5 below zero. We were ordered to defend these areas."

"They took us out to our positions at 5 p.m. They deployed us about every 100 feet along the fire break. We were told to sit behind a tree on the edge of the fire break and that if anything moved in the cleared area, we were to shoot it and find out what it was in the morning. Being from the South and having done some hunting, I realized I could stay warmer and my gun would stay functional (not freeze) if I scraped the snow off the ground and put the gun under my body and cover myself with my dependable Army raincoat.

"During the night it continued to snow and sleet, and if I moved I could hear the ice breaking on the raincoat. Of course, as luck would have it, the Germans did not drop any troops and morning finally came and we were picked up and taken back to our encampment. That was the longest night I ever lived."

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