LA JOLLA, Calif. – On Veterans Day, a local World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge wants Americans to remember the sacrifices he and others made for their freedom.
La Jolla resident Bob Tauber was just 20 when he was drafted into the Army to fight back against the rising tide of fascism in Germany.
Now in his 90s, Tauber remembers it being his duty to serve the country.
“We had to do something,” he said. “We were attacked. We didn’t start this war; our country was attacked. My family would be in jeopardy. America was in jeopardy. I figured it was the thing to do.”
With each passing year, fewer and fewer WWII veterans remain to share stories like Tauber’s. Of the 16 million Americans to serve in WWII, only about 325,000 remain living, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tauber joined the cavalry which gathered intelligence for the Army. In 1944, his unit was attacked in the Battle of the Bulge.
“The Germans suddenly found a weak spot in the middle of the American lines,” he said, “and they put a tremendous effort right in the middle of the American lines and that’s what the bulge is — tight in the middle. It was a very surprising attack.”
It was then when he was struck in the arm twice. He recalls immediately giving himself a shot of morphine while a friend tied a tourniquet on his arm.
He then walked himself to an aid station for treatment, later recovering at a hospital in France where he volunteered to help carry Holocaust survivors inside.
“These survivors weigh 80, 85 pounds, arms like broomsticks,” he said “I just never seen anything like that in my life. Almost pure skeletons with skins stretched across their body. When I saw that I said, ‘Now I know why we’re fighting the Nazis in Germany.’
“For one human being to do this to another human being was just unbelievable to me.”
After the war, Tauber and his family eventually settled in San Diego, where he founded his own company.
Today, he lives quietly at a retirement community called White Sands La Jolla.
“(It’s) a day of remembrance for me and goes back for me 75 years,” he said. “It’s a day that all Americans should relish that we’re free.”