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Operation Merzig

The men and officers of Heater apparently felt particularly safe when the second platoon was assigned to the task of protecting them. At any rate, barely a week after Whipsaw, Lt. Robinson and his men were once more headed for the gay outdoor spaces, this time to aid the 3rd Cavalry Group. The party departed Briey at 1305 on 13 Feb and arrived in Waldwisse about 2 ½ hours later. From here Heater was to move up to Mondorf and Weile [?] simulating tanks moving into positions along the Saar River.

The Germans held a defensive line along the Remich-Merzig-Saarlautern sector mainly by fortress units in fortified positions. The 11th Panzer Div. was somewhere between Remich and Merzig and was suspected to be withdrawing. The last contact had been on 10 Feb, but indications were that the 11th Panzer had remained in the area south of Trier.

The U.S. 3rd Cavalry Group held 8 miles of front centered on Merzig. The 94th Inf. Div. was on its north and the 26th Inf. Div. on its south.

The objective was to hold the 11th Panzer Div. in its position by showing evidence of tank reinforcement to its front. The 3rd Cavalry Group assisted by movement of real tanks during the day with increased fire, increased activity such as laying a smoke screen, etc. At 1700 on 13 Feb on troop of tanks began a feint two miles north of Mondorf which lasted until 2030. Meanwhile Heater moved into Mondorf and began operations at 2000 hours playing in two tank battalions, and concluding at 2245. From there, the deceivers left for Halstroff to play in wait for the next night’s affair. This took place just east of Weiler where the group moved at 1800 hours that night. Two more tank battalions were played in before the operation ended at 2145.

The Germans reacted to these demonstrations by increasing their machine gun fire, mortar fire, and artillery fire, and by activity behind the lines including the movement of vehicles. Whether or not the 11th Panzer was held in place, however, was not known.

With all the additional enemy shells dropping in the area, the guard duty tasks of the second platoon were no pleasure. No great difficulties were experienced, however. Some months later it was learned that Lt. Col. Schroeder, the operational commander, was highly pleased – nay even awed, by the manner in which S/Sgt. Price, Sgt. Cattani, and Sgt. Sauro braved the enemy shells and posted their guard while under enemy observation. Bronze Stars were requested for all three, but only the Certificate of Merit was authorized. The proud recipients spent much time figuring out what it was that they had done to receive such distinction and finally ended up boasting about their accomplishments on Operation Ukange. When the citations were read all three were proud, not to say amazed at the great heroism they had shown on this mission.

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