JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - Ninety-eight-year-old-year-old Courtney Wells says there is much he doesn't remember about World War II, but he does remember that at a crucial turning point in the war, he was able to come through for his country.
"My job was to get gasoline for Patton's tanks, or airplanes, or whatever we needed. Gasoline was certainly a priority."
Wells was drafted out of college into the U.S. Army and at the height of fighting in Europe was assigned to General George Patton's Third Army, engaged in battle south of Metz, France.
"We had all the gasoline, etc. soaked up and ready to go and they changed their minds at Bastogne."
The Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944, had put the German Army on the run. However, Hitler had one more card up his sleeve, a surprise attack on a weakly defended allied line in Belgium.
By December 21, 1944, the German's had surrounded the town of Bastogne. Conditions within the perimeter, defended by the 101st Airborne Division, were tough. Most of the medical supplies and medical personnel had been captured and food was scarce.
Because of overcast conditions which grounded the superior American Air Corps, Allied Forces were fast losing ground.
Within 48 hours, General Patton's Army had arrived in Bastogne from Metz and broken the siege.
"It takes a thousand gallons of gasoline to move all the vehicles in the Army needed."
As the weather changed and cloud cover lifted, American planes were able to carry out their attack and the tide was turned on what could have been a devastating loss for the Allies.
"Each one of those planes had 114 gallons of five-gallon cans of gasoline in them."
Wells has heard his job described as "to beg, borrow or steal, the gasoline needed for the victory" and difficult as it was, Wells was able to get the gasoline for the American troops, while the German Army soon ran out of their fuel supplies and were forced to retreat.
Courtney Wells was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946 and returned to civilian life.
"I was discharged as a captain and about six months later I was promoted to major in the Army Reserves."