"We had a lot of troops that were untrained. A lot of guys that had six weeks of training," Bast said.
Nearly seven-decades have passed since Vic Bast fought the air war during the "Battle of the Bulge". But at 91-years-old he remembers vividly how skies cleared enough to fly and illness allowed him to be part of an attack. Bast also remembers when one colonel caught German pilots by surprise.
"He (the colonel leading the flight) pulled down behind one. Boom. Two. Boom. Three before they caught on he was the enemy," recalled Bast. "And then about a hundred descended on him. And he yelled out: "Come on down! Every man for himself. Come down there's enough for everybody."
Within months after that battle, the war in Europe would conclude followed by victory over Japan. . Back home in Oconto Falls, Bast would serve as a teacher and school principal, while remaining in the army reserves. Decades after retiring, East would recall his World War Two service, and those who fell in battle, during an "Old Glory Honor Flight" that included visits to major veterans memorials.
"The Vietnam Memorial everybody knows there's 57-thousand names," Bast said. "They can't print the names of World War Two because it's enormous. So they put one star for each 50-thousand deaths. And it's covered with stars."
Bast has been active with area veteran's organizations to ensure they get the recognition and treatment they've earned. He also made sure in the classroom the armed forces were in good hands for the future..
"I taught aviation for a while in high school." Bast said. "A lot of those men went into the service and became pilots. A lot of them became civilian pilots."
Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.
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