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Issue Number 29

The 17. SS “Götz von Berlichingen” (PA) War Journal



The winter offensive is on! Our leaders, using carefully hoarded supplies and reinforcements plus timing, have started the drive to push the Allies out of the war in the west so we can turn our full attention to the advancing Red menace in the east. Members present for the attack or joining in support at Ft. Indiantown Gap this January 28-29, 2005 were:

Untersturmfuhrer Dwayne Slepetz                   Oberschutze Robert Brenneman

Unterscharfuhrer Bill Person                           Oberschutze Allen Brenneman

Rottenfuhrer Randy Knauss                             Schutze George S. Skrapits

Sturmann Jim Helm                                         Schutze Rkt. Chris Karr

Oberschutze Marc Kawalsky                            Koch Steve Karr

            …And joining us from our sunny West Coast detachment, our beloved leader, Obersturmfuhrer Kurt Swartley.

Our unit moved into the barracks area in the days preceding the attack and settled in. Our bunkmates were Soldaten from the 9th WSS Hohenstaufen who were to be our partners in attacking the Yankee dogs. It was a pleasure to be serving with them as usual.

Many other units had moved into the assembly area and there was time to visit Freunden in these groups while perusing the supply area looking for items of necessary equipment and clothing. The evenings were spent in a small café set up nearby, run by female helpers of the Waffen SS and Luftwaffe. Kaffee, Tea and rarely seen sweets were served while the 17th relaxed in a quiet atmosphere. The idea of a war going on seemed far away – for a few hours, at least.

A recon on the morning of Freitag was cut short because of the weather and not finding any Tommies or Amis. The slick roads and soft snow hiding rocks created more headaches with several Landsers going down with sprains and broken bones. These were casualties we could ill afford. One member of the 9th WSS was taken to a Krankenhaus with a dislocated elbow! Unfortunately, our own Sanitätsman, Bill Reinhart, is still recuperating back in Deutschland or he would have been here mending wounds. Get better soon, Wilhelm!

Later that evening, our much-adored Untersturmfuhrer Slepetz arrived and he and Obersturmfuhrer Swartley gathered the unit for a small meeting. Basically, dates for future training sessions were laid out and a small pep talk was given. Obersturmfuhrer Swartley related tales from his front section and how they defeated the Amis with the help of heavy panzers like a Tiger! The meeting ended with Untersturmfuhrer Slepetz stating that he will be pulled from the unit at times with other leadership duties but feels the 17th members are more than capable of handling themselves in a scrap. And besides, the genius of our Kleine Unterscharfuhrer is there to guide them! (Insert snickers and laughs here!)

Getting some needed sleep was a hard task with some of the new replacements staying up late trying to gather their courage from a bottle. Not so with the Alte Hase of the GvB.

Daylight came and us Soldaten donned winter clothing and checked equipment and weapons while Morganessen was wolfed down. Because of the need for help in the rear assembly areas, only five GvB members were put in today’s attack. They were:

 Unterscharfuhrer Bill Person                          Oberschutze Allen Brenneman

Rottenfuhrer Randy Knauss                             Schutze George S. Skrapits

Sturmann Jim Helm

This brave group hooked up with the 9th WSS Hohenstaufen and marched to the Opel Blitz trucks to be dropped off at the front. The weather was clear and cold with no signs of Jabos in the skies.

The first job of the 17th upon arriving at our rally point was to make a small recon of our flank to locate a Luftwaffe unit. Rottenfuhrer Knauss and Oberschutze Allen Brenneman took point as usual with Unterscharfuhrer Person in the middle and Sturmann Helm and Schutze Skrapits watching our backside. No Luftwaffe unit was found. Herr Goring was as good on the ground as he is in the air. Reporting our results, we were then ordered up a steep hill to cover a road.

Upon reaching the top, all covered I sweat, no Amis were observed and we then radioed back. From down the mountain we were ordered to link back up with the main group. This was the situation much of the morning: march and stop. No firing was heard, not even from far away. Did the Allies simply melt away?

The WSS commander then had us form a skirmish line and march to a distant clearing. The 17th GvB was ordered to stay with him and protect him and a staff officer. He wanted Soldaten that he trusted.

At a group of logs we halted a bit to rest and call in our position. We formed a protective ring around the officers without needing to be told and our sharp eyes scanned for trouble.

At the clearing, we watched a group of Deutsche Soldaten checking out a number of Yankees who had surrendered. The WSS commander had a bad feeling about the situation and this was shared by Rottenfuhrer Knauss so we watched from afar.

Sure enough, an Ami column was seen going around the clearing and turning to attack from the west while from the east came a surge of enemy Soldaten yelling and firing. Time for action! Schutze Skrapits and Sturmann Helm went to cover as Rottenfuhrer Knauss and Untersturmfuhrer person tried to flank the attack coming from the east. Gewehrs started heating up as round after round was poured into the enemy. Sturmann Helm picked off one Yank who tried sneaking up on Unterscharfuhrer Person. Rottenfuhrer Knauss got close enough to take out a few with his Pistole 38.

Despite this, the Amis tightened their noose threatening to wipe us out! The order for withdrawal was made and off we scrambled through a section of woods where the Yanks hadn’t surrounded us yet. Oberschutze Allen Brenneman led our mad dash with Sturmann helm keeping back and picking off any Yanks who tried to follow.

Out of breath, we made it to a road and then followed it up a hill to the top, knocking out a Yank sniper hiding there. There we took up positions to defend ourselves. We numbered only about thirty Manner against a force of 100+ Amis with vehicles, but we weren’t going down without a fight. “That’s why we wear the runes!” one Soldat was heard to exclaim.

Thirty minutes slowly ticked by and no Allied column. What happened? Did they get behind us or bypass us? The WSS commander was able to reach HQ by radio and soon we got our answer. The Yanks were simply too cold and tired to keep going after us so they pulled out! We were saved!

The order came to march back to the pick-up point. All us Soldaten were tired and worn out but we held our heads high as we reached the trucks. As we loaded into the vehicles, a Kubelwagen with none other than General Sepp Dietrich came through and gave us congrats on today’s attack. He stated that the main thrust was going well. The Allies were being beaten back on a wide front. Us Landsers relished the news as the vehicles took us back to our barracks.

Once back, Untersturmfuhrer Slepetz told us to quickly wash up and get ready for an awards ceremony. Uniforms were quickly brushed up and dress belts were polished.

The 17th GvB lined up with the 9th Hohenstaufen as their commander and a colonel came in. Several wound badges, assault badges and promotions were handed out. Officer’s candidate rank was given to Oberscharfuhrer Rich Moran of the 9th for his devotion and hard work. The crowning moment came when Rottenfuhrer Knauss and Oberschutze Allen Brenneman were ordered to step from the ranks. Each was then awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for going beyond the call of duty and for actions at the last Odessa campaign. As these coveted awards were pinned on the Soldats’ chests, Untersturmfuhrer Slepetz and Unterscharfuhrer Person beamed with pride.

After being dismissed, we then began tearing down our bumnks and gathered equipment together for the ride back to homebase. Another job well done by the 17th Götz von Berlichingen!


After-Action Report

                                 March 11-12 – Mini-Gap – Operation Nordwind

                                  April 23-24 – Torrance, PA

                                  June 3-5 – Reading, PA Airshow

                                  September 9-11 – Odessa, NY

Other events are sure to follow. These are the current ones. Bis Später!


PS – The new unit website address is:  Go see it, it’s awesome