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A look back: Snow blanket saves life of DL soldier in WWII

(This was taken from the January 2, 1947 edition of the Detroit Lakes Tribune.)

C.W. Krabbenhoft, son of Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Krabbenhoft of Detroit Lakes, always liked the snow, but he didn't know he was utterly crazy about it until the spring of 1945 and learned that a snow blanket had probably saved his life.

It was a more or less balmy day in June when he was inducted into Uncle Sam's Army at Fort Snelling, but the snow was some three feet deep when he, and other replacements from Fort McClellan, Ala., were sent in to fill the depleted ranks of the Seventh Armored division after the Germans had driven that outfit out of St. Vith in the battle of the Bulge.

"Just before we were to jump off in the attack the Army Air Forces bombers and fighters gave the town a good going over," he said. "I was assigned to the 23rd Armored Infantry battalion and our job was to advance over a snow-covered field about 1,000 yards from a cover of timber. As the planes finished their bombing and strafing, our tanks moved up in a line at the edge of the timber. Our outfit, composed of riflemen, started across that shallow valley as our tanks opened up with everything they had. As we moved forward they were shooting over our heads, ripping the defending Germans in the town. As our advance elements reached nearly to the edge of the town, the tanks stopped their fire and we went in. It wasn't too much trouble as the SS troops had moved out of town ahead of our advance. The other Heinies were none too anxious to fight and many of them surrendered.

"Our casualties were comparatively light and we moved on through the Siegfried line and when V-E Day arrived, we were up near the Baltic Sea.

"We had almost forgotten St. Vith, but the details of that battle came back to us with a bang and we got a case of the jitters when word got to us that when the snow melted off that field we had crossed, the Army Engineers dug some 2,000 mines out of the dirt.

"I've seen lots of snow in Minnesota, but as I look back, there'll never be a scene as beautiful as that blanket of three feet of snow that enabled us to walk safely over those mines."

T-5 Krabbenhoft is assigned to the service and supply division, headquarters commandant, Seventh Army. He has re-enlisted in the army and will tell one and all that he likes the life.