WWII Vet gets help from Rally Committee
SAV12-donation-480Tas Blevins and Jim Wear of the Salute to American Veterans Rally Committee present a check for $1,100.00 to Laura & Bud Jeffery at their home in Cripple Creek Colorado.James L. “Bud” Jeffery served in the United States Army in World War II, - Battery C, 354th Field Artillery, 76th Infantry Division, which as part of the Third Army under the command of General George S. Patton. Bud was a gunner on a 155 howitzer cannon, just like the one on display at the City’s Parks & Recreation facility.

The 76th Infantry Division arrived in Europe in late 1944. On December 16, 1944, the Germans launched their last major offensive in the West – the famous Battle of the Bulge and Bud would find himself in the center of that Bulge. On the first day of the offensive fighting was at close quarters and German SS troops lay dead only a few yards away from Bud’s position. After days of fighting, Bud and his unit had destroyed many German tanks with their cannons and in the process, many of Bud’s friends had been killed.

To the north of Bud’s position, the German army had initiated an attempt to break through the Allied lines with the objective of seizing the critically important harbor at Antwerp. A key element in the battle was centered in and around the Belgian town of Bastogne. All seven main roads in the Ardennes forest converged on this small town. Control of the crossroads of Bastogne was vital to the Germans to resupply their troops and push the offensive forward.

The American forces at Bastogne had been surrounded by the Germans and were cut off from supplies and reinforcements. There were insufficient Allied troops close enough to come to their aid. General Patton pulled some of his best units away from battlefields to the South where they were already engaged and told General Dwight Eisenhower that the Third Army, including elements of Bud’s 76th Division and the 101st Airborne, would get to Bastogne relieve the weary U.S. troops.

Bud’s division began a 48 hour march through freezing temperatures, snow, and ice-covered roads. Reaching Bastogne, they fought their way into the city and were immediately surrounded by the Germans. Bud and his crew fired their 155 mm howitzer until they ran out of ammunition. Bud then picked up his M-1 rifle and continued to fight the Germans as a foot soldier. Bud fought inside the city of Bastogne until January 1945 at which time the Germans were pushed back and the original American lines reestablished.

For his bravery in taking part in the desperate fight to save Bastogne, Bud and the other members of the 76th Infantry Division were awarded a special commemorative Bastogne medal by the exiled King of Belgium. Bud proudly displays this rare award with his other medals in his home. However, the battles were not over for Bud and the 76th Infantry Division.

After Bastogne, the 76th Infantry Division began fighting their way into Germany. Moving to the Rhine River Valley, the 76th took over the line from Boppard to St. Goar and crossed the Rhine River at Boppard, on March 27, 1945. The 76th Infantry drove east and took Kamberg in a house-to-house struggle. A new attack was launched on April 4th and the 76th reached the Werra River the next day. The attack continued in conjunction with the 6th Armored Division until Langensalza fell and the Gera River was crossed on April 11th. That same day, Bud and his company came across and helped liberate the German concentration camp at Buckenwald. He has carried the horrors of what he saw at that extermination camp quietly within him all these years.

On April 14-15th, the city of Zeitz was captured after a violent struggle and the 76th reached the Mulde River on the 16th, going into defensive positions to hold a bridgehead across the Mulde near Chemnitz until victory in Europe was achieved. When the war ended in May of 1945, Bud found himself in Cheimntz, a small city near Dresden, Germany. He had survived countless battles and endured many hardships. Bud himself, was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He still has a large piece of a German artillery shell, which was removed from his leg and is displayed along side his medals in a frame at his home.

For his efforts, Bud was awarded nine medals from the countries of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. He also received eight American medals, including the Purple Heart. When the war ended and all of the losses of the original 354 Field Artillery Battery C were added up, Bud was one of nine people out of original thirty-eight who survived the war. Nine out of thirty-eight.

In 1946, Bud returned to Sacramento and met Laura, his future wife. On May 9, 1948, they were married. They have been married 60 plus years. They have three children, James, Judy, and Rick. Judy was living in Cripple Creek when she was involved in an automobile accident. Bud and Laura moved here to help her during her recovery. They have said that they felt the City of Cripple Creek took them in and made them feel welcome immediately.

Bud began working at the Rose Bud mine, on night shift, at the leach pad and later became a conductor of the tourist train in Cripple Creek. As active members of the Gold Camp Victorian Society since 1999, Bud and Laura have become an integral part in preserving the history of the area.
They have participated in many parades in Cripple Creek, Victor and Colorado Springs, performed in reenactments, and taken part in the Ghosts of Christmas Past and the Mt. Pisgah cemetery tours. Bud helped Laura with her passion of celebrating Christmas in Cripple Creek for many years.