Martin King Tells The Story Of Nevada's World War II Veterans
Original Story Posted on March 11, 2020
More than 75 years ago, German troops launched a massive attack on American and Allied troops in Belgium.
Today, veterans of the Battle of the Bulge are in their 90s, or even older.
Historian Martin King was in Las Vegas to share his stories as the keynote speaker for an event to honor Nevada’s surviving World War II veterans.
King has written several books on the famous six-week battle, including “The Battle of the Bulge – Hitler’s Final Gamble in Western Europe.”
The historian told KNPR's State of Nevada that he became interested in the stories of World War II after his learning that his grandfather fought in World War I but King never heard his stories because his grandfather refused to talk about his experiences.
King began to focus on the Battle of Bulge 30 years ago when he talked to a veteran from Oklahoma who showed him around the Ardennes, which is the region where Hitler launched his last offensive against Allied troops.
“It got me thinking: Who were these lads?” King said of his encounter.
Since then, he has made it his mission to talk to servicemen and women about their time there.
“The last 30 years I’ve made it a labor of love to find as many and to record as many stories as possible for antiquity, for posterity,” he said.
King said many of the people he talked to had refused to talk about their experience with anyone, including family members. It wasn't until he and his team of researchers started asking questions that they talked.
Since he started collecting their stories, King has also made it a mission to tell as many people as possible about the American victory in Belgium in the bitterly cold winter of 1945.
“Doing my absolute, up-most best to keep these stories in the public psyche, to keep them circulating and that is what I’m still doing today,” he said.
King said the Battle of the Bulge, otherwise known as the Ardennes Offensive, was as multi-faceted as an "Antwerp diamond." The front stretched 90 miles and covered three distinct areas with a variety of terrain.
In the end, King said it was the Americans' ability to assume command when needed that won out.
“What transpired was the capacity of the American solider - the GI – to take control of the situation and operate autonomously down to the squad level. Where the Germans couldn’t operate beneath regimental level without written orders,” he said.
Randy Garcia is the founder and CEO of the Investment Counsel Company. He organized the ceremony after visiting Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the Allied landing.
While there, he traveled through Belgium and into Germany and met King.
He also met a veteran and when Garcia thanked the man for his service, he said something interesting back.
"He said, 'don't thank me, I should be thanking you for not forgetting me,'" Garcia said.
Martin King, Historian and Author; Randy Garcia, founder and CEO, Investment Counsel Company.