World War II Veteran Parts Wisdom to Young Paratroopers, Tells Story of Reaching Hitler’s ‘Nest’

by Keeli Parkey

The number of World War II veterans is decreasing every day. However, while they are dwindling in number many of them are still making an impact on younger generations.

One of those veterans is Vincent Speranza. According to an article posted on the United States Army website, he served in World War II as a paratrooper and machine gunner. He also became pretty famous for his actions in Bastogne. He recently traveled to Joint Base Elmendorf in Richardson (JBER), Alaska, to share his story with the Spartan Brigade.

And, this veteran has one amazing story to tell. During World War II, Speranza was part of H Company, 501st Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Speranza was drafted in 1943 and he became an infantryman. Speranza decided to enter parachute school when he witnessed an airborne training jump.

This veteran was just one soldier who fought at the famous Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne in 1944. During this key moment in history, the German army managed to break through the lines of the Allies. Vincent Speranza and others were then taken to the front lines of the battle. The conditions there were very rough and involved very, very cold weather.

In an act that made him famous, veteran Vincent Speranza carried beer to wounded soldiers at Bastonge in a helmet. Interestingly, this led a Belgium brewery to make an “Airborne Beer.”

This beer was distributed in mugs that looked like helmets used by American soldiers.

During World War II, Veteran Vincent Speranza Saw Map a of Hitler’s Plans

Later, World War II veteran Vincent Speranza fought in Germany before the war came to an end in 1945. While there he saw things he would never forget. Speranza was there for the liberation of a Jewish concentration camp. There he saw mass graves. Another unforgettable sight came when this veteran and others in his unit arrived at Adolf Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest.”

It was here that the veteran looked at a map that showed Hitler’s plans for dividing up power when he won the war.

“If anybody ever doubted why we had to fight that war, there it was on the wall,” Speranza said.

Interestingly, the unit of paratroopers Speranza recently addressed in Alaska has a common history with the unit Vincent Speranza was a part of. The Alaska unit is the Army’s 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. This unit is connected with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

One of the paratroopers who heard what Vincent Speranza had to say identified with the veteran.

“I feel like I relate to him most about the camaraderie and always looking out for each other,” Spc. Ryan Lindsley said. “No matter how tough things get, there’s always something to look forward to; and in a terrible situation, there’s always some way to find the bright side, to bring out the best in everything.”