MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – I am the least important person in this story. So let’s get to the real people.
People from the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Club honored a group of World War II veterans Friday as they embark on a trip overseas.
“Why do it?” asked guard member Pete Thebford. “Because they deserve the honor. Nothing but honor for these guys. They fought hard to free the country.”
The old men of war are heading back to Belgium.
The Battle of the Bulge was 75-years ago. It was the last big battle fought by Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Hitler almost did it, almost beat America, until he ran into the full fight these men had to offer.
So people came to Memphis International Airport to thank them.
“The greatest generation,” said Tom Panagori. “I will tell them I appreciate the freedom they’ve given my family and me. And being here is the right thing to do, so I’m excited to see them.”
This language might offend you. But this is what many soldiers were known as, in a pivotal battle during the Bulge. They were called “The Battling Bastards of Bastogne.”
They were surrounded, supplies gone, but they refused to surrender. The commanding officer responded to the Germans asking if they would give up with a one-word answer.
Then one day, the weather cleared, the planes flew – pilot Irwin Rumler did his job.
“When I was a young pilot,” he said, “… they called me Slim.”
Now the story of K.T. Robbins of Olive Branch, who has a few reasons why he is returning to Belgium.
“It means everything in the world to me,” he told Local 24 News Photographer Janice Bridges. “l get to go back over there and get to see my girlfriend again.”
When asked about how he is 98 years old and does he really have a girlfriend in France, Robbins replied, “Oh yeah. You didn’t know about that? Wow!”
Wow is right. Robbins learned last July the girl he met 75 years ago, in France, is alive and well. K.T. says she was his first girlfriend. Her name is Jeannine Ganaye. He is widowed, so is she.
This time, K.T. and Jeannine will spend four days together. Showing that memories might fade, but love never does.