AO: The Patriot
THE PAX: Bambino; Bone; Brown Bag; Elvis; FNG Fuzz; Hightower; Jenner; Maj. Payne; Poe; Sticks; Sunshine; Two Percent; Three Mile
At 05:30 on December 16, 1944, a prolonged artillery barrage announced the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. German forces swept through the Ardennes forest, attempting to split Allied forces in two and to retake the deep-water port of Antwerp. They were met by unexpectedly strong American resistance from small units scattered across the sparsely defended region. The fighting took place in horrible conditions, marked by freezing temperatures, snow, mud, and misery.
At 05:30 on December 16, 2019, 14 PAX gathered in snow and sleet to commemorate these events by performing the following exercises:
WARM UP: SSH; Wind Mills; Arm Circles; Cherry Pickers; Downward dog; Merkins
Siegfried Line – PAX scouted the Siegfried line, running to a cinder-block, performing 3 X thrusters, then running to the next cinder block, performing 3x curls, running to the next cinder block, performing 3x thrusters, running to the next cinder block, performing 3x curls …. Repeato.
Kampfgroup Peiper – PAX Bear-crawled the path taken by Kampfgroup Peiper from the Losheim Gap toward its objective on the Meuse River. The PAX performed exercises at strategic points along the German advance:
Losheim – Because German Engineers did not repair the bridge in Losheim, Peiper had to turn South. 16 Bridge-Ups. Then bear crawl 5 yards to:
Lanzerath – A small group of Americans (18 members of reconnaissance platoon and 4 forward artillery observers) hold up Peiper’s task force for over 12 hours. 500 German paratroopers attempt to overrun the U.S. position, but are held back by the 22 Americans. In their honor, PAX completed 22 Merkins. Then bear crawl 10 yards to:
Honsfeld – Peiper’s column captures 50,000 gallons of US fuel, allowing the column to continue advancing. This is critical to the German plan, as they do not have enough fuel to reach Antwerp. The PAX refuel with 16 4-count plank jacks, then bear-crawl 15 yards to:
Malmedy – Captured US soldiers are ordered to stand in a field beside a cross-road, then shot by Peiper’s SS troops. 84 US POWs die. Peiper’s 10-mile column of tanks continues to periodically fire into the field as it pass. A few US soldiers survive by hiding beneath the bodies on their comrades. Word of the massacre quickly spreads through US lines, strengthening American resolve.
In remembrance of the Malmedy Massacre, PAX perform 84 exercise counts: 4-Count Body Weight Squats (24); Single-Count Lunge Steps (20); Squat Jumps (20); Calf Raises (10); 4-count Bonnie Blairs (10). Then move on to:
Trois-Ponts / Stoumont – Peiper’s column stalls, then is attacked by Allied planes. Because US engineers have blown all bridges between the Germans and the Meuse, Peiper’s task group cannot reach its objective. US warplanes destroy German armor and men as they retreat. 16 Dive-Bomber Merkins and 16 Bridge-Ups.
PAX Mosey to end line for next exercise
Shoulders Hold Strong – 16 x 4-count Atlas Shrugs to celebrate the strength of the defenders on the “shoulders” of the bulge—the remnants of the 99th Division defending Elsenborn Ridge in the north and the 28th Infantry division holding its flank in the South.
St. Vith – To Commemorate the 7,000+ men lost (captured or killed) from the 106th Infantry Division, the defense of St. Vith, the strategic retreat from the town, and the Allied counter-attack, PAX perform 106 counts of exercises: 20 4-count American hammers; 20 4-count flutter kicks; 20 Dolly-to-Heavens (4-count scissor kick; heel raise combo); 20 LBCs; 20 4-count Toy Soldiers; and 6 Burpees.
PAX performed a Burpee at St. Vith, perform 20 count of an exercise, then retreat (running backwards) to the far end zone. To regroup and pick up the six, PAX performed Montgomerys in the end zone (4-count British “T” arm raise, followed by air-chair sit with 4-count self-aggrandizing air presses). They then retake the lost ground and repeated the sequence. Finish with a Burpee for 106 exercise counts.
On Dec. 20, 1946 Field Marshall Montgomery was put in charge of two US Armies on the northern edge of the battle, who could not directly communicate with US general staff south of the Bulge. Montgomery gave a press conference describing the battle. It was seen as self-promoting and insulting to the Americans. In response, Winston Churchill described said “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”
Bastogne – PAX formed defense perimeter around the critical intersections in Bastogne, forming an outward-facing ring. They collectively performed 101 Merkins, holding plank as the Merkins went around the circle.
THE MARY: U-S-A! U-S-A!; J-Los; Bicycles
CIRCLE OF TRUST: When first meeting his generals after the German attack, Dwight D. Eisenhower stated that “The present situation is to be regarded as one of opportunity for us, not disaster. There will be only cheerful faces at this conference table.” With the German troops attacking, not in defensive positions, they provided opportunities for Allied forces to attack their open flanks. Ultimately, the German attack resulted in loss of irreplaceable men and material for the Germans.
While facing obstacles this December, try to channel Gen. Eisenhower. Look for the opportunity, not the disaster.