Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veteran’s Day is approaching….

…so to lead up to it, I have a few Veteran’s Stories to share.

The first is Ed Trey, a WW2 and Korean War Vet who played football against a President (Ford) in highschool, met Patton, received a Bronze Star (with V) and retired as a Lt. Colonel.

The last line in the story still brings a smile to my face.  Here’s to you Col Trey…Cheers- Smokes and Booze salutes you Smile


Scotch helped decorated soldier survive war

A decorated U.S. Army veteran of two wars, Edward L. Trey, 94, has enjoyed a full life.

He can thank British soldiers -- and Scotch whisky -- at least in part for that. During World War II, off the coast of Anzio, they saved him from a watery grave.

Trey said he was perched on the back of a landing craft in the Mediterranean Sea when his ship hit a mine. It was loaded with members of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion based at Camp Gordon, Ga.

"It blew the center of the ship out. I spent five hours in the water and nearly froze to death.

"At one point, I looked up to the sky, and I said, 'Goodbye, world!'"

He re-enacted the moment, glancing above as he threw his arms up in the air.

But the British ship came along and delivered him to a British hospital, where he received five days of medical care.

"They sent down a ladder for me, fed me scotch by pouring it down my throat and thankfully I recovered," he recalled one afternoon last week at his Frederick home.

His worst fear? "Being captured by the Germans," he said.

Trey took part in five amphibious launches while serving in WWII from 1942 to 1945 and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He endured 541 combat days while in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Austria and Germany.

"Wherever they needed mortar fire, we went," Trey said. "We were a portable unit" responsible for transporting high-explosive mortar shells.

His unit started with 1,010 men and lost 800 to 900 in action, he said.

Honored with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for Valor, Trey's military service didn't end with WWII.

He later was recalled to duty during the Korean War.

Last Thursday was a particularly busy day for Trey, who enjoyed a visit from historian Terry Lowry, author of "Bastard Battalion: A History of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion in World War II."

A neighbor stopped by later as well, to bring him a container of homemade spaghetti and a bag of cookies still warm from the oven.

Trey welcomed the stream of company, as the sounds of "Bonanza" played on the television.

Trey moved his wife and growing family to Frederick in 1955. They raised four sons and a daughter while he worked for 16 years as a packaging engineer in the biolabs at Fort Detrick.

Trey's military service began at an inopportune time, he said. He was only two semesters into his college career when he was drafted.

"They pulled me out," he said. "They called. You came."

He boasted of two men he encountered in vastly different kinds of combat. Both men's achievements would have chapters devoted to them in history books.

He met Gen. George S. Patton while serving in WWII. "He was a rough customer, all stars and bars and his pearl-handled pistols," Trey said.

He met former President Gerald R. Ford in Michigan, many years before Trey was drafted into the Army.

"I played football against him in high school," he laughed. "I played football with a future president."

Reminiscing once again about his frigid time in the sea, Trey said the whisky revived him -- and still does today.

"I just got me a big jug to keep me going over the weekend," he said, pulling out a bottle of Clan MacGregor. "Can I pour you a glass?"


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