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Bastogne, Beer and Bullets

Stumbled across this story in the Stars and Stripes about how a trooper in the famed 101st Airborne discovered he had been immortalized in local Bastogne legend. Former Paratrooper Recalls WWII Incident that Led to Beer Fame

Pvt. Vincent Speranza served in H company 501st PIR of the 101st Airborne Division. (The same regiment that contained Easy company of "Band of Brothers" fame). He joined in 1943 and arrived in H company as a replacement soldier. During the Battle of the Bulge, a buddy was wounded and dragged back to the town for aid. Vincet, during a relief period, went back to town to find his friend and found him in the field hospital. When asked if there was anything he could do his friend asked him to bring him some beer. He found his way to a bombed out tavern that still had a functioning beer tap. He filled his helmet and returned to the makeshift hospital and served the troops. He tried to do it again, but got chased off by the surgeon.

A Photo of Mr. Speranza with the beer

Here's the great part - he went on to serve and return home and never gave another thought to it, until he returned to Bastogne for the first time, 65ish years later. While touring the town with two European soldiers, he found his old foxhole and later over lunch told them the story about carrying beer in his helmet.

Turns out - he was a legend in Bastogne where a local brewery, Brasserie Bouillon located in nearby Bouillon, had commemorated what was believed to be a tall tale. The officers knew the story and immediately ordered 4 bottles of the beer and it was served to the company out of it's traditional serving vessel, a ceramic mug shaped like a GI's helmet. (see here Belgian Shop)

That's pretty badass, if you ask me.


johnaitchison's picture

I've been to the Bastogne Museum, it's a wonderful place. The whole town still loves Americans, and they have a statue of General McAullife with just the inscription "Nuts" on it. Wish I had picked up some of the beer.

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