The Battle of the Bulge and OSU

painterlad's picture
November 18, 2012 at 11:58a

My father was a proud member of the 7th Armored Division during WWII. At first he was a gunner on a half-track, but by the time they were assigned to the Netherlands he had been moved to a unit known as G2. G2 was a branch of military intelligence (my dad swore that was the greatest oxymoron ever invented by man) and they trained my father on how to become a scout.
You see, my dad was an artist. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1941 and entered the army by the gracious invitation of the government that very summer. Besides being able to draw he also had a keen intelligence and an uncanny ability to retain detail. Plus, being from Lima, he grew up a sneaky little bastard who knew how to pinch apples from neighbor’s trees without ever getting caught.
So the army would send dear old dad all alone miles behind enemy lines to gather intel on whatever they needed. He carried with him his uniform, a small satchel, a number of pencils and sketch pads and a fully loaded .45 hand gun. He would then sneak about drawing detailed maps of gun emplacements, troop assignments and local terrain. He understood the risks involved and my being here means that he did a good job.
During the fall of 1944, the 7th was stationed to support the flank of the 106th infantry division in a little town called St. Vith. All was quiet until the early morning of December 16th, at which point all hell broke loose. St. Vith happened to become the tip of the German spear with which they intended to drive the Allies back to the sea.
For three days the 7th held the critical road junction, but had to retreat due to overwhelming forces. As the division moved to a more defensible location, intel was desperately needed as to the size and location of German forces.
Enter my father. In the middle of the night he slipped across enemy lines to find out exactly who was where and how much they had. With a heavy snowfall and strong winds to help conceal him, my dad made it safely into the thick woods. While the lousy weather helped protect him, it also caused him to become disoriented. Soon enough he was lost in the woods, all alone, with Germans everywhere. Eventually he made his way back to his camp where he was confronted by American sentries.
“Halt,” they screamed. “Advance and be recognized!”
Dad put his hands in the air and moved slowly. “Sgt. Snook,” he answered.
By this point the Americans had become aware the Germans had disguised themselves as American troops to commit sabotage and none of the sentries were familiar with my father. They continued to point their weapons at my dad and demanded proof.
“Go get Major Boyer; he knows me.”
One of the sentries ran off. He came back several moments later with an officer.
“Major Boyer,” my father said, “it’s Bob Snook.”
The major squinted into the dark. “The Bob Snook I know is from Ohio State. Sing your fight song.”
Without hesitation my dad began to sing. “Fight the team across the field, show them Ohio’s here…”
Major Boyle began to laugh. “That’s Snook alright,” he announced. “Only a godd**n Buckeye would be stupid enough to sing their fight song in the middle of battle. Let him in.”
My dad wasn’t let in because he knew the proper words. My father was let in because as he developed a friendship with his commanding officer he made it known he was a proud alumnus of Ohio State. He wore it as a badge of honor. It was who he was; it was part of his DNA. Those hours he spent in class never left him, those friendships never deserted him. How firm thy friendship indeed.
A few months later the war in Europe was over and my dad was headed back home to Lima. His life as a soldier came to an honorable end but his life as a Buckeye never stopped. He was there when Tom Harmon single-handedly beat Ohio State in 1940 and he was one of the many thousands who gave him an ovation. He listened to the Snow Bowl on the radio. He recalled telling people in 1953 that Hayes would never make it in Columbus and I saw him cry when the old man got fired.
He hated Michigan with an undying passion. When I was too little to understand Viet Nam or Watergate I understood that Michigan was the source of all evil and that Archie was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I knew that Bo was a traitor and that the colors yellow and blue should never appear together. I never questioned why Michigan was so bad because when your hero hates something it becomes your hate as well.
My father died on the Friday before Memorial Day in 1991. The unfiltered Camels caught up with him and the stroke just finished off what the emphysema began. My dad was born with red hair and until the day he died he kept all of it. The color began to fade as the years rolled and eventually gray crept in.
And even in death the colors of his beloved Buckeyes could be found upon his person.

Go Bucks! Beat Michigan!

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NC_Buckeye's picture

RIP Sgt Snook. Go Buckeyes! Beat Michigan.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Wow. Nice story. RIP Sgt. Snook

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Justanut's picture

What a wonderful tribute to your dad, painterlad! Go Bucks!

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

That story brought tears to my eyes. For his undying love for Ohio State. For his service in the war (my grandfather was a field medic at the battle of the bulge, put into that position because he was a barber). For his hatred to the team up north, and his love of the game. Thank you. 

painterlad's picture

Only in the army would cutting hair equate to medical training.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

utahbuck's picture

In the middle ages and into the renaissance barbers were surgeons too!! I have been nicked from a shave that drew blood!!!

Alpo's picture

Great story of a proud American and proud Buckeye! Thanks for sharing

gbdawg's picture

Nice story, may your Dad rest in peace.

HighBallAce's picture

May your dad rest in peace! You did a Buckeye hero great honor!

BuckeyeChief's picture

Great story! May he rest in peace and may our team win this week.

"2014 National with it!!!"

gravey's picture

Awesome story.  I wonder if he knew my great uncle Buck Stevens, who was also lost behind enemy lines during the Battle fo the Bulge; or my best friend's grandpa Gideon (of Lima)...both loyal  Buckeyes in their own right.  Thanks for sharing.

Liening's picture

Great story and tribute to your father.  It brought back a lot of memories.  Please allow me to relate my father's story, even though there is only a flimsy OSU connection.
My father was from Osgood, OH (near Minster), served in the 99th Infrantry Division in the Battle of the Bulge, and (like your father) was caught behind enemy lines.  He and 2 buddies made their way back through the lines over 2 days, to Krinkelt/Rocherath, which is near St. Vith.  He was manning a foxhole near the Krinkelt cemetary to hold the crossroads against enemy advances.  There was fire exchanged, and he woke up days later in a hospital in Paris with concussion injuries.  He never found out what transpired between the last thing he remembers in Krinkelt and waking up in Paris.  He was later moved to a hospital in England.  The first hospital ship filled ahead of him, and he had to wait for the second.  A U-Boat sank the first one in the English Channel.  That crew was forced to lock the hatches to the lower decks to give time for those on the upper decks time to escape.  My father's ship made it.  I was born 6 years later, and became the first in the family to attend a major university when I joined the OSU family 18 years after that.
Fifty years later I was taveling in Europe with a Dutch and a German (business colleagues), and they arranged a stop at Krinkelt.  I saw the cemetary and the church (rebuilt now), just as my father had described them.  And we were surpised to find a monument to the 99th Infantry Division that the townsfolk had erected, with the names of the dead engraved.  It was moving visit for all 3 of us, who each had their own very personal family stories of the war.  I get teary even now thinking about it.  


utahbuck's picture

my dad was with the 99th too...349th inf regiment. purple heart during the battle and first of 5 bronze stars (Rest in korea and also decorated with the silver star there.) first air evac pilot in korea and later pilot for ridgeway.) but never a buckeye. that comes from mother's side.

Liening's picture

Wow, that is impressive service.  My father was in the 99th, 393rd HQ Company.  A bronze star and 2 purple hearts.  He talked occasionallly about the army as I was growing up, but not much about the war until 30 years later, and only then because I asked him to tell me about it.


toad1204's picture

Words do not do justice for how awesome this post is. 

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

ArTbkward's picture

That's an incredible story.  I hope that on Saturday your dad watches the game with Woody and they are both proud of the outcome.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)


Reading that brought me to tears! Awesome tribute to your father, Painterlad! Wish I had the honor of knowing him. Rest in Peace Sgt. Snook and GO BUCKEYES!!!!!!!!!!

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

painterlad's picture

Thank you all for your kind words. Go Bucks!!!!

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

klfeck's picture

Great story!!!! God bless your dad and all those like him.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

Thanks for sharing and many thanks to your father for risking his life for our freedoms.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Buckeye2005's picture

Awesome story about your Dad.  Go Bucks!  Beat Michigan. 

Urbstache's picture

Wow. I love 11W. Thanks for sharing, one special story among many, many similar ones.

Urban Warfare

Doc's picture

Painterlad, may God Bless your father and keep him.  I'm typing this right now with tears streaming down my cheeks.  What a wonderful story of bravery and heroism.  Thank you for sharing this story, and for your fathers service.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Dougger's picture

Damnit man, that was so incredibly amazing to read, it was hard to finish. Thank you for sharing. RIP to a great buckeye and human being!

I like football