Voices of the Battle of the Bulge: 'It was something we had to do'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third installment of a 10-part series about asking the same five questions to 10 World War II veterans who served during the Battle of the Bulge Dec. 16, 1944, through Jan. 25, 1945. The veterans returned to Europe for 70th anniversary observances of the battle in Belgium and Luxembourg, Dec. 9-18, 2014. 


Mike Levin
7th Armored Division, 489th Armored Field Artillery Battalion 
 Born in Venango, Nebraska, in August 1919, Levin's lifelong career in government service began in New York in 1942. A year-long tour of duty in Greenland preceded his returning to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for Officer Candidate School. Becoming a forward observer for the 489th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, his first enemy contact was near St. Vith, Belgium, during the first days of the Bulge. Fighting in the campaign to the Rhine, he was stationed in Halle, Germany, when the war concluded. He returned home in June 1946. Receiving the National Intelligence Medal as a precursor to his eventual career, Levin became an intelligence officer with the National Security Agency, rising to Director of Policy before retiring after 46 years of meritorious national service. He currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Where were you during the Battle of the Bulge?

I was a forward observer. My only job was to get as far forward as possible where I could see the enemy and radio back firing instructions to my artillery battalion behind me, and focus in on the target and get the target. That was my job, and I did it. I was in communication with a fire direction center, and depending on the size of the target that I described, they would either fire one or two 105mm Howitzers or six or 12 or 18 depending upon the size of the targets.

We felt it was something we had to do to defeat Nazi Germany, and I was ready to go, and that's what we did. It was an important action for us.

How does it feel to be back 70 years later?

It's been very interesting seeing things that bring back a lot of memories from the Battle of the Bulge. Just being here puts me back into the mood that I remember I was in here in this foreign country in the middle of a war.  It's quite moving.

It feels great to be back in the place where I was in combat and see all of the evidence of it--it really happened! They're been a lot of museums, and I've enjoyed seeing the tools that we used during the war, the uniforms that we had, the transportation that we used. It all brings back the old memories.

We appreciate the words that we've gotten from so many of the local people thanking us for our part in the liberation of their country, and that's nice to hear.

'The Greatest Victory'

What was the proudest moment of your military career?

When the Germans surrendered and we had won the war. I ended up in a town called Saale an der Halle river. Just knowing that we had been through this and lost a lot of buddies, but that we were alive and Germany surrendered.

What got you through some of the toughest of times? [Why was your organization called "The Lucky 7th?"]

I don't know why. It was the 'Lucky 7th' when I joined it. After the war, I said 'now I could see why: we came home!'

'The Greatest Victory'

What advice do you have for the men and women in uniform today?

Do your job, and do it faithfully. It's important to your country.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Levin's biography provided by the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.
Video by Senior Airman Rusty Frank.
Photos by Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden and Senior Airman Rusty Frank.