We're writing this on purpose during the summertime because it's important. It's important to think about how good it feels outside right now compared to the frigid winter that many have experienced. Certainly, heat can be uncomfortable, but for crying out loud San Antonio, Texas got snow before Chicago, Illinois this past winter. It was a brutal cold hard winter. Still, it doesn't compare to the winter that Battered Bastards of Bastogne endured. This is a special edition of our American Grit Stories, recognizing this unit for the biting frozen hell they endured.Winters in Bastogne weren't necessarily cold like say Siberia or Alaska, but with temperatures hovering right around 30 degrees Fahrenheit and without proper winter clothes or boots, the Battered Bastards of Bastogne were literally freezing their asses off. Fun fact about the cold. The human body is more inclined to resist permanent physiological damage when body temperature rises as opposed to body temperature dropping. You can get a fever of 101 or 102 and feel like crap, but you won't die. However, when body temperature (normally around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) drops to 96 degrees, you are legitimately cold, shivering thinking you're going to die.So these guys, without proper winter equipment, surrounded, outlasted and held out against a superior German force that had artillery on call all while getting trench foot and various cold-related maladies. Despite numerous shellings, bitter fighting, the men of the 101st Airborne fought like hell despite being cut off from friendly forces.[caption id="attachment_17790" align="alignnone" width="750"]
U.S. troops pinned down in the Ardennes by German troops - December 1944
U.S. Army[/caption]Acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, received a note from the German commander surrounding Bastogne, the note asked for the surrender of the American forces. Well, "Old Croc" wasn't having any of that shit and he said "Nuts"...which we roughly believe to be the modern-day variant of "F***!" (McAuliffe said "Nuts!" instead, as he had a tendency to not swear) as he realized they were asking for the Americans to surrender.
The Battered Bastards of Bastogne held the line. Never giving an inch, through the cold, through the gunfire, and the artillery, the outmanned and undersupplied men of the 101st Airborne Division made history during the Battle of the Bulge and forever cemented their legacy in the history of the United States Army.Read more stories of American Grit: