Revy Smith: Battle of the Bulge
He was a small man who sat slumped over in his chair. I met him while living in southwest Michigan, and it was a great honor to sit and hear his stories. You see, Revy was a combat veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, the costliest battle ever fought by the US Army.
Revy passed away in December 2016 at 95 years old, his wife going before him by just a short time. It broke my heart to see his obituary, and since I moved back to Cincinnati, I was unable to attend his funeral. This, then, is in memory of PVT Smith.
Very Quiet Man
Before meeting him for the first time, his nurse told me that Revy speaks very quietly, and so it is hard to understand him. I was a mortarman for six years, so you can imagine the difficulty I faced. I walked in and introduced myself as his nurse performed her duties. I told him that I was a combat veteran of the Iraq War, and he turned his lowered head to look into my eyes. Without skipping a beat, the brotherhood immediately commenced as Revy began his story.
It was actually a short story. PVT Smith was a member of a tank crew, and in his very first battle a mortar hit his tank, killing everyone in the tank except him. He was injured, and he carried the scar and pain in his leg until his death.
Revy was a very young man when he entered the war, and, like many, he was scared. He told me that when the German infantry advanced on his tank, he fired his machine gun at their feet “to scare them away.” It didn’t work. It was his first battle, and it was his last. He was evacuated from his tank, along with another of his crew, but, as stated above, he was the only one to survive. His buddy died shortly after.
As we talked for a good forty-five minutes, his voice began to grow louder. His nurse was visually stunned. He was with a brother in arms, and this frail, old man began to get a second wind. Revy was proud of his service, and that became more clear the louder he spoke. It became easier to hear and understand, though it was obvious that he was painfully telling his story.
As I walked out of that room, Revy’s daughter hugged me and thanked me, telling me that she hadn’t seen him that happy in a long time. I felt good. I felt alive. My war was a different kind of war, and I know that every new generation always looks back to the men and women who came before with honor and pride, but this little visit with PVT Smith reinforceed that into a personal reality. Over the next few weeks, I visited with him more. I brought him my helmet from the war; he explained how his differed. I showed him the tail fin of the mortar round that almost killed me; he retold the story of his tank being hit. I showed him my coins, and then I left him one of them. I needed to be a part of this man’s life, and I wanted to let him know how unworthy I felt being in his presence. Revy was a hero. He became my hero.
Revy lived a long, long life, complete with trials and tribulations. A wounded man that didn’t allow his wounds to define him. He lived the life that I want to live…a complete one. I will miss PVT Smith.