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Lone Sentry: Unit History: 102d thru Germany



H Hour-30
The moon was going down on a still winter night atingle with suspense. Stars glimmered through clear patches in broken scudding clouds. Underfoot, soggy ground squished and gurgled as the patrol cautiously slithered to waiting boats, held in readiness by engineers. Even here, along the comparatively quiet banks of the Roer, back currents and eddies sucked ominously, eagerly it seemed to the engineers. A covering party, deployed and waiting tensely on the west bank, shivered in anticipation, expecting momentarily to be startled by a burp gun's swift chatter, the blinding illumination of a white flare, or the soft chug-bang of a Jerry mortar. Surely these noisy preparations could not escape the ears, could not he ignored by outposts of the 59th German Infantry Division which had awaited now some two months the Allied plunge to the Rhine.
At exactly 0300 Buck Rogers' Night Raiders of the 407th Infantry pushed out into darkness, out into the narrow torrential Roer, receding from its spring flood levels, As their paddles dug into the racing stream, a German machine gun opened up not fifty yards away, tracers forming a red deathly stream overhead. But in spacer
Field Marshal Montgomery visits the Ozark CP
at Ubach, Germany, in February 1945.

the fitful starlight bobbing assault boats on a raging river are poor targets. Two long minutes later, minutes that stretched to hours for those who waited and those who worked, the boats hit the Roer's east bank. Swiftly the men plunged ashore, scrambling madly up slippery slopes. With clocklike precision dark figures fanned out around the ominous machine gun. Moving instinctively one man returned the fire. Another grasped his grenade. A good throw. A dull thud. A scream. Silence.
Now was the chance to reorganize, count heads, move off to secure the needed toehold. One group, led by Sgt Albert Charpentier, swung toward the railroad bounded by a dense minefield (Prisoners later insisted this barrier had been placed behind their outpost line in order to keep their unit along the river, come hell, high water, or attack). The rest of the patrol slugged south mopping up one nest after another. At H-hour -- thirty minutes later -- the first assault wave of the 407th Infantry crossed without a hitch. Their bridgehead, the first across the Roer, was established.
By this time Rogers' Raiders had cleared 500 yards of river bottom on a 200 yard perimeter, knocked out five machine gun nests, cleaned up six other automatic weapon positions, killed fifteen and captured eight Krauts. In all of these hectic, frenzied 30 minutes they lost not a single man. Their plans, worked out in advance to the most minute detail, had paid off.
When Buck got back to the Linnich schoolhouse basement, which served as the regimental CP, he sat down for a few minutes on a handy K ration box, just resting up, blinking a little in the dim light as fatigue replaced nervous tension. Someone walked up and said: "The General wants to see you."
Lt Roy Rogers walked over to where Major General Keating and Colonel Dwyer were standing in a knot of officers, all beaming like proud fathers.
"I suppose you know the operation is going very smoothly, thanks to you”, said the General, "I am honored to pin this Bronze Star on you, with the thanks and gratitude of the assault troops.”
Then everybody shook hands.
"There was nothing spectacular about that raid" said Rogers later, "The boys all worked strictly according to plan. We don't take chances.

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