Freedom Fighters: Doug Ham - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Doug Ham

(Source: Doug Ham) (Source: Doug Ham)
(Source: Doug Ham) (Source: Doug Ham)
(Source: KLTV News Staff) (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Mr. Ham and Joan Hallmark (Source: KLTV News Staff) Mr. Ham and Joan Hallmark (Source: KLTV News Staff)

Doug Ham arrived in Europe on January 31, 1945. It was the coldest winter on record, with temperatures dipping to 20 below zero. 

After fierce fighting and heavy losses, with American casualties estimated at over 100,000, allied troops had just been victorious in the Battle of the Bulge. However, German troops still held the land from Belgium to Berlin.

Ham was to fight in both the Colmar campaign and the Rhineland campaign. In the Rhineland, Ham helped secure and hold the Maas River, which allowed allied troops to cross in Germany-held territory, and in March, Ham's 290th infantry regiment crossed the Rhine River against heavy resistance.

"The worst part about it was when you were laying down and you couldn't go nowhere, putting down on the river," he recalled.

Surrounded by German troops on three sides and the river on the fourth, Ham crawled on frozen ground with bullets flying over his head. For his courage in the Rhineland campaign, Ham was awarded the Bronze Star.

Ironically, decades after the end of WWII, photographs of Ham and others in his regiment were found in an antique shop in New England. Those photos are among Ham's most prized possessions, a constant reminder of friends who didn't survive the war, and others like him who did.

"I just feel that the Lord was with me,or I wouldn't be here today," he said.

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