Battle of Hürtgen Forest

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest (German: Schlacht im Hürtgenwald) was a series of battles fought from 19 September to 16 December 1944, between American and German forces on the Western Front during World War II, in the Hürtgen Forest, a 140 km2 (54 sq mi) area about 5 km (3.1 mi) east of the Belgian–German border.[1] It was the longest battle on German ground during World War II and is the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought.[7]

The U.S. commanders’ initial goal was to pin down German forces in the area to keep them from reinforcing the front lines farther north in the Battle of Aachen, where the US forces were fighting against the Siegfried Line network of fortified industrial towns and villages speckled with pillboxes, tank traps, and minefields. The Americans’ initial tactical objectives were to take the village of Schmidt and clear Monschau. In a second phase the Allies wanted to advance to the Rur River as part of Operation Queen.

Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model intended to bring the Allied thrust to a standstill. While he interfered less in the day-to-day movements of units than at the Battle of Arnhem, he still kept himself fully informed on the situation, slowing the Allies’ progress, inflicting heavy casualties, and taking full advantage of the fortifications the Germans called the Westwall, better known to the Allies as the Siegfried Line. The Hürtgen Forest cost the U.S. First Army at least 33,000 killed and wounded, including both combat and non-combat losses, with upper estimates at 55,000; German casualties were 28,000. The city of Aachen in the north eventually fell on 22 October at high cost to the U.S. Ninth Army, but they failed to cross the Rur river or wrest control of its dams from the Germans. The battle was so costly that it has been described as an Allied “defeat of the first magnitude,” with specific credit given to Model.[8][9]: 391 

The Germans fiercely defended the area because it served as a staging area for the 1944 winter offensive Wacht am Rhein (known in English-speaking countries as the Battle of the Bulge), and because the mountains commanded access to the Rur Dam[notes 3] at the head of the Rur Reservoir (Rurstausee). The Allies failed to capture the area after several heavy setbacks, and the Germans successfully held the region until they launched their last-ditch offensive into the Ardennes.[2][10] This was launched on 16 December and ended the Hürtgen offensive.[1] The Battle of the Bulge gained widespread press and public attention, leaving the battle of Hürtgen Forest less well remembered.

The overall cost of the Siegfried Line Campaign in American personnel was close to 140,000.[11]

Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge)

The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Offensive, was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II. The battle lasted for five weeks from 16 December 1944 to 28 January 1945, towards the end of the war in Europe. It was launched through the densely forested Ardennes region between Belgium and Luxembourg. It overlapped with the Alsace Offensive, subsequently the Colmar Pocket, another series of battles launched by the Germans in support of the Ardennes thrust.

Left:  American soldiers of the 117th Infantry RegimentTennessee National Guard, part of the 30th Infantry Division, move past a destroyed American M5A1 “Stuart” tank on their march to recapture the town of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge, January 1945.

The primary military objectives were to deny further use of the Belgian Port of Antwerp to the Allies and to split the Allied lines, which potentially could have allowed the Germans to encircle and destroy the four Allied forces. The Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, who since December 1941 had assumed direct command of the German army,[16] believed that achieving these objectives would compel the Western Allies to accept a peace treaty in the Axis powers‘ favor. By this time, it was palpable to virtually the entire German leadership including Hitler himself that they had no realistic hope of repelling the imminent Soviet invasion of Germany unless the Wehrmacht was able to concentrate the entirety of its remaining forces on the Eastern Front, which in turn required that hostilities on the Western and Italian Fronts be terminated. The Battle of the Bulge remains among the most important battles of the war, as it marked the last major offensive attempted by the Axis Powers on the Western front. After their defeat, Germany would retreat for the remainder of the war.

The Germans achieved a total surprise attack on the morning of 16 December 1944, due to a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance due to bad weather. American forces bore the brunt of the attack. The Germans attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions that grounded the Allies’ superior air forces. Fierce American resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive, around Elsenborn Ridge, and in the south, around Bastogne, blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success. Columns of armor and infantry that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads. This congestion, and terrain that favored the defenders, threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops.

Allied strength during the battle peaked at more than 700,000 men; combined, U.S. and British forces suffered from 77,000 to more than 83,000 battle casualties,[19] including at least 8,600[13] killed. The “Bulge” was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II[20][21][22] and the third-deadliest campaign in American history.[23]

Fifty-two East Tennesseans died during the epic battle.  Here is the breakdown by county:  Anderson, 2; Blount, 1; Bradley, 3; Campbell, 1; Carter, 2; Cocke, 3; Cumberland, 1; Fentress, 3; Grainger, 1; Greene, 1; Hamblen, 1; Hamilton, 7; Hancock, 1; Hawkins, 2; Jefferson, 1; Johnson, 1; Knox, 8; Loudon, 2; Marion, 1; Monroe, 1; Morgan, 1; Polk, 1; Rhea, 1; Roane, 2; Sullivan, 1; Unicoi, 1; Union, 1; Washington, 1.

Name Branch County
Armstrong, Fred W. Army/Army Air Forces Washington
Beaty, Willie B. Army/Army Air Forces Fentress
Beets, Ray K. Army/Army Air Forces Grainger
Blake, Arnold F. Army/Army Air Forces Rhea
Bowers, James E. Army/Army Air Forces Blount
Bowers, Jack L. Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Britt, Benjamin H. Army/Army Air Forces Jefferson
Brobeck, Leroy Army/Army Air Forces Hawkins
Brookshear, Gordon L. Army/Army Air Forces Loudon
Carpenter, Joe E. Army/Army Air Forces Hancock
Castleberry, Howard M. Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Church, Thomas J. Army/Army Air Forces Sullivan
Clifton, Eugene B. Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Copeland, Walter Army/Army Air Forces Cumberland
Czarney, Edd Army/Army Air Forces Morgan
Davis, John T. Army/Army Air Forces Roane
DeLoach, Robert Army/Army Air Forces Carter
Denney, William E. Army Carter
Disney, David L. Army/Army Air Forces Anderson
Duncan, Mack Army/Army Air Forces Anderson
Durham, Clarence A. Army/Army Air Forces Marion
Evans, James L. Army/Army Air Forces Johnson
Fischer, Glenn D. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
Freeman, Earl J. Army/Army Air Forces Bradley
Frist, Robert J. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
Hedgecock, Charles Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Hensley, Carl E. Army/Army Air Forces Hawkins
Hixson Jr., Wallace W. Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Horton, John W. Army/Army Air Forces Hamblen
Houston, Samuel L. Army/Army Air Forces Claiborne
Hurst, Lonzie W. Army/Army Air Forces Fentress
Keck, Elmer Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Lawson, Robert H. Army/Army Air Forces Polk
Masterson, Marshall E. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
McElyea, Charles E. Army/Army Air Forces Knox
McKinney, Joseph D. Army/Army Air Forces Roane
McNabb, Lloyd R. Army/Army Air Forces Cocke
Morgan, Lee R. Army/Army Air Forces Unicoi
Ogden, Samuel L. Army/Army Air Forces Knox
Padgett, Ordway H. Army/Army Air Forces Cocke
Pardue Jr., Mack C. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
Patrick, John McCoy Army/Army Air Forces Sequatchie
Pippin, Layton W. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
Rowan Jr., Mack R. Army/Army Air Forces Monroe
Scalf, Andrew J. Army/Army Air Forces Greene
Shoun, Leonard R. Army/Army Air Forces Hamblen
Smith, Lawrence D. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
Tarpley, Courville B. Army/Army Air Forces Bradley
Teague, Carl P. Army/Army Air Forces Hamilton
Wells, Walter E. Army/Army Air Forces Loudon
White, Joseph B. Army/Army Air Forces Campbell
Woody, Ray Army/Army Air Forces Cocke

SPC Jeremy Daniel Evans

SPC Jeremy Daniel Evans passed away on October 2, 2023 near Ft Wainwright, Alaska as a result of a training accident. Jeremy, as he was known to many in the area, was born March 31, 2000. Jeremy attended Gibbs High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army as a private.

The family will receive friends from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Sunday, October 22, 2023 at Clear Springs Baptist Church 7350 Tazewell Pike Corryton, TN 37721 followed by a 4:00 p.m. Celebration of Life Service, Rev. Justin Pratt officiating. Family and friends will meet 2:45 p.m. on Monday, October 23, 2023 to leave in procession for a 3:30 p.m. committal service at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery 2200 East Governor John Servier Highway Knoxville, TN 37920 with full military honors by the Fort Campbell Kentucky Honor Guard.

The family is requesting, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made in his honor to the Gibbs High School Marching Band, 7628 Tazewell Pike, Corryton, TN 37721.

World War I and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, September-November 1918

The Battle of Argonne Forest was part of what became known as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the final battle of World War I. It was a massive attack along the whole line, with the immediate goal of reaching the railroad junction at Sedan. The US had over 1 million troops now available to fight. While the US troops were not battle tested, the introduction of over 1 million well-armed troops into a battle that had exhausted armies for four years would prove decisive.

Commanding US troops was General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing. Responsible for the logistics was Colonel George Marshall, who went on to become Army Chief of Staff in World War II. The American offensive began on September 26, 1918, north of Verdun. Like all World War I offensives, it began with a massive artillery attack. The American forces had mixed results in the first stage of the battle that lasted until October 3rd. German resistance was strong, but the sheer numbers of the Americans slowly forced the Germans back. Meanwhile the French and British troops to the North were having similar success with slow but steady advances. By the end of the second stage of the battle which lasted from October 6th to 26th the American forces had advanced over 10 miles and cleared the Argonne Forest.

In the final stage of the battle, which lasted until the Armistice of November 11, 1918, American forces advanced on Metz, while French forces conquered the goal of the campaign, Sedan. The Americans suffered 192,000 casualties in the battle including 26,277 killed. The French suffered 70,000 casualties, while the Germans had 126,000 casualties, among them 56,000 prisoners.

Tennessee’s National Guard contingents formed a substantial basis of the 30th (“Old Hickory”) Division which proved decisive along the vaunted Hindenburg Line and then later in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. East Tennesseans who died of disease or in combat during the conflict numbered a total of 1116 with Hamilton (149) and Knox (141) recording the most.  Every one of the thirty-three counties lost someone.

Below are 11 who paid the price of their future lives fighting fiercely in defense of freedom for the Allies.  They came from 11 counties of East Tennessee.


September 11, 2001 and Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Close to three thousand people die in the attacks. Although Afghanistan is the base for al-Qaeda, none of the nineteen hijackers are Afghan nationals. Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian, led the group, and fifteen of the hijackers originated from Saudi Arabia. U.S. President George W. Bush vows to “win the war against terrorism,” and later zeros in on al-Qaeda and bin Laden in Afghanistan. Bush eventually calls on the Taliban regime to “deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land,” or share in their fate.

President Bush signed into law a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against those responsible for attacking the United States on September 11. This joint resolution will later be cited by the Bush administration as legal rationale for its decision to take sweeping measures to combat terrorism, including invading Afghanistan, eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without a court order, and setting up the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

East Tennessee and the War in Afghanistan

Twenty-two East Tennesseans died or were killed in Afghanistan. Even though the war spanned almost twenty years, ending in August 2021, some counties like Bledsoe, Blount, and Campbell had no casualties whereas Knox had the most with eight.  Here are several stories from different counties comprising East Tennessee:

Franklin N. Watson

Trey F. Porfirio


Jason Dane Hovater

The Korean War Seventy Years Later (1953-2023)

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
—General Douglas MacArthur

Of the seven conflicts the ETVMA chronicles and memorializes, one yet remains unresolved with no final peace treaty in place.  More than 36,000 American troops were killed during the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 until 1953. The Defense Department lists 7,496 as missing in action from the conflict, including an estimated 5,200 believed to be in North Korea. Some were buried by U.S. troops in makeshift cemeteries that were abandoned after China’s entry into the war forced U.S. forces south. Others are believed to be at the sites of aircraft crashes or possibly in warehouses that the North Korean military maintains.

The total number of East Tennesseans who died or were killed in Korea (447) is relatively small compared to World War I (1,116) and World War II (4,013).  The war in Vietnam was even more costly in terms of lives lost – 671.  The two largest cities in the region, Chattanooga and Knoxville respectively, lost the same number – 69, while in smaller ones like Sequatchie (1) and Meigs (2) the toll was much less.

Here are the stories of two, one from Jellico in Campbell County, and the other from Sevierville whose remains have still not been recovered.

Willie Partin.

Norman E. Flynn.

The USS Indianapolis and East Tennessee

The infamous sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) resulted in the greatest single loss of life in American naval history, with approximately 300 crew members going down with the ship and another 580 dying in the water from dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks. Only 317 of its original crew of 1,196 survived the ordeal.

The heavy cruiser was torpedoed just after midnight on July 30, 1945 by the Japanese submarine I-58. The ship sank in twelve minutes, but it took four days for the survivors to be spotted by a crew on routine air patrol and for the Navy to learn of the sinking. The Indianapolis, traditionally the flagship of the Fifth Fleet, was en route to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines from Tinian Island, having just delivered components for “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The crewmembers that perished were all awarded the Purple Heart and are memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Philippines.

Twenty-four men from East Tennessee were on the Indianapolis representing eleven different counties, from Hamilton and Marion in the southwest to Hawkins and Sullivan in the northeast. Knox (see Kyle Moore and Earl Henry) and Marion (see Ralph Holloway) Counties had the largest losses, with five from Knox and four from Marion. Proportionally, in terms of population, Marion County’s losses were the most severe.  The names and their counties can be found below.  See USS Indianapolis: The Legacy.

USS Indianapolis

UT Press Book on the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Published

The almost 400-page book is available from the University of Tennessee Press, local bookstores, or Amazon. It showcases the stories of over 300 service members and their families, documented with public records, obituaries, and family recollections. In these pages, readers will find the accounts of each of East Tennessee’s 14 Medal of Honor recipients, along with tales of a variety of other veterans from World War I to the present, people whose lives and deaths together form a microcosm of the armed forces. Richly illustrated with historical photographs, this ambitious undertaking delivers not only a compelling history of individual lives but also a broader sense of military history in the region and a contribution to the scholarship on the value of monuments as a means to honor the past.