The Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest battle that the Americans fought during World War II. Nearly 80,000 Americans were killed, wounded or captured, but the battle ended in Allied victory. Nate Hirsch, a resident at Paul’s Run Retirement Community, fought with the American Infantry during this critical battle.
Part of a true military family, Nate was one of five sons, four of which served during World War II. He had one sister, whose husband also served in World War II, and his youngest brother joined the military when he was old enough.
When Nate was 21, he received notice that he had been drafted. He had just married his wife Anne that summer. “It didn’t bother me,” he said, “I was already committed.” Four weeks later he was called to Fort Meade, Maryland. He was then stationed at Miami Beach with the United States Army Air Core. Anne went to Miami Beach with Nate. “She said she’d stay for two weeks, but she stayed for two years,” he said.
As a non-commissioned officer at Miami Beach, he was in charge of train cars of soldiers that were being sent to different schools all over the country. Nate once took troops the whole way to Soux Falls, South Dakota. “They gave us a dollar a day for food,” he said. Nate also worked in the mess hall at Miami Beach. “Miami Beach was great, I loved Miami Beach,” he said.
Nate was then sent overseas, where he served with the Air Core for over a year and a half in England, France and Germany. Shortly before the Battle of the Bulge he was sent to infantry. “They knew they were going to need troops,” he said. “They gave us six weeks of training.”
Nate served two years with the infantry in France and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. “We were always under fire,” he said, “we had to be on our toes. Things got pretty hectic during the Bulge. The Germans brought their best troops. A large part of my outfit was captured. I was lucky to get away.”
When stationed at Remegan, Germany, Nate’s base was near two prison camps. One was a women’s camp, and one was a large camp with 15 to 20 thousand prisoners of war. Nate was able to speak Hebrew and some German, so he served as an interpreter. “They were a rough group,” he said. None the less, Nate enjoyed meeting people from different countries while serving abroad. “I found the German women in the camp very interesting,” he said.
Nate said that being in the infantry was scary at first, but he got used to it. “Sometimes you just had to close your eyes,” he said. “It was something that went through and it was necessary at the time. They say many are called, few are chosen. You get assigned to your job and you get through it, it’s not that bad.”
“I made the best of it,” Nate said. “A lot of soldiers get discouraged and want to get out. You have to stay in for awhile. You have to like what you’re doing. Sometimes we did things we didn’t like, but we had to do it.”
Finally, Nate was sent to a base near Marseille France where they prepared him to return home. “So I came back to my wife in Philadelphia,” he said. “It was beautiful.”
After the war ended, Nate often vacationed in Miami Beach. On one visit, 64 years after serving his time, he was awarded a gold medal from the commissioner of Miami Beach for his dedication to duty.