Bob Hart

Battling Buzzard

We were well-trained and in terrific shape—a bunch of young guys who felt they were immortal. We were anxious about how we’d do in real combat—anyone who tells you otherwise is lying—but after a year of getting ready we wanted to get on with it.

Pfc. Bob Hart, U.S. Army

bob hart

Hart, standing, second from left, and some pals in Naples in May of 1944. Hart Family Collection

Bob Hart, a paratrooper who manned a machine gun, was one of the best trained soldiers of World War II. The “Battling Buzzards” were a formidable team. But in the horrific Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944-45, it was often every man for himself. And Hart’s feet were killing him.

After his first combat jump, he ended up trudging 50 miles on a broken foot. Then in Belgium as the Nazis staged their counterattack, his outfit had no winter boots. Hart suffered frozen feet. The retired airline mechanic feels lucky to be alive.

bob hart

Smithsonian Institution

Below: Hart works out with a 90-pound barbell in the fall of 1943. Hart Family Collection

bob hart