Martin C. Evans

LI Vet helped halt Nazi advance at Bulge

In Uncategorized on December 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm

A German tank crew, captured during Germany's attempted advance through Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

Joseph R. DeCola, 85, of Lake Grove, was with an anti-aircraft unit in World War II that may have helped turn the Battle of the Bulge.

After he read my article in Sunday’s Newsday marking the 65th anniversary of that pivotal battle, DeCola wrote to say he was a sergeant with the 555th Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion when the battle began on December 16, 1944.

The unit had only recently begun making use of a newfound ability to use pairs of mobile radar stations to plot the position of flying aircraft on a map of the ground below them.

That skill produced a tactical advantage when extreme fog prevented American planes from spotting German formations rumbling west toward the Allied line in Belgium.

DeCola’s battalion realized it could steer American pilots to roads being used by advancing German troops and tanks.

“A pilot, from the Bronx, volunteered to fly providing we would control him. We brought him down over the main road in the middle of the Bulge and he reported over eight miles of German Tanks and vehicles,” wrote DeCola, who moved to Huntington after the war, and started an electrical contracting business in Farmingdale.

“We brought in Squadrons of planes and bombed the front and back of the convoy so they were locked in.

“We bombed them all day long. This broke the back of the Bulge and the war was soon over.”

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