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Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System

 

Battle of the Bulge Veteran Still Serving

Edgar Bradshaw holds a photo of himself in uniform which was taken in 1943.

Edgar Bradshaw holds a photo of himself in uniform which was taken in 1943.

By Nathan Schaeffer
Monday, December 13, 2010

In December 1944 and January 1945, Edgar Bradshaw took part in arguably the greatest battle in American military history, the Battle of the Bulge.

As an artilleryman in the U.S. Army 84th Infantry Division, 326th Field Artillery Battalion, Bradshaw’s job was to compute the elevation for artillery pieces.

“I was a ‘computer’ in the fire direction center,” said Bradshaw, who is 91.  “I was a ‘computer’ before they had computers,” he said with a laugh.

Approximately 500,000 to 840,000 U.S. Soldiers fought in the Battle of the Bulge, which occurred in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium.  During the fighting, U.S. troops slept in the snow.

“It was cold,” said Bradshaw, who was awarded several bronze stars.  “There were two times in my military career when I got cold and that was in Belgium and in Korea.”

Following six years on active duty from 1942 to 1948, Bradshaw joined the Oklahoma National Guard and served in the Korean War with the 45th Infantry Division, 171st Field Artillery Battalion.  He retired from the National Guard in 1979 at the rank of Captain.

When he returned from Korea, Bradshaw worked in McAlester for a few years as a salesman and then moved to Muskogee in the 1960’s and worked as a salesman with General Foods.

In 2004, he joined the Korean War Veterans Association and found out about volunteer opportunities at Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC).

“I didn’t know they needed volunteers,” he said.  “I joined the (Korean War Veterans Association) and they said they sure do need volunteers out at the VA hospital and that’s when I decided I could at least donate one day.  And I wound up donating two.”

Since 2004, Bradshaw has worked as a volunteer in the Business Office on Monday and Thursday and has donated more than 4,000 hours.  He greets Veterans and then helps locate the appropriate staff to take care of the Veterans’ needs.

“People come in and I at least speak to them," said Bradshaw.  “That helps, you know.  Then I find out what they need and then I can go get the person that does it.  That cuts down on a lot of their time.  A lot of them come in for travel pay and a lot of them come in for a bill and I go get the lady that takes care of that.”

He hopes to volunteer at JCMVAMC for as long as he can.

“I volunteer out here two days a week,” he said.  “Every Tuesday night they have a senior citizen’s dance (in Muskogee) and I go dancing.  And the rest of the time I have a dog and I take the dog for a walk every morning.  I just keep moving as much as I can.”

Bradshaw is one of 296 volunteers at JCMVAMC who make a difference every day to make Veterans’ stay at the medical center more enjoyable.

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