To be clear, the number would have only been 20 had the German SS taken Bolden up on his act of mercy. For after gunning down 20 of the 35 holed up in a Belgian house, he retreated and gave the final 15 the opportunity to surrender. He nursed his wounds as he waited and yet when it appeared the final 15 still had a little fight left in them he charged the house alone and finished the job.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the German Army made one final attempt overwhelm the Allies with their coordinated push catching many American units outnumbered, but not overwhelmed. Men like Paul Bolden stood in the gap and with heroic feats turned 35 to 1 odds into a stunning victory. For Bolden, he would pick up the nation’s highest military honor for his feat and leave history with this spectacular display of gallantry against all odds.
From Alabama to Belgium
Paul Luther Bolden was born in June of 1922 in the small Alabama town of Hobbs Island. Growing up, not many would have picked the slender rural Alabama man as a local hero or national treasure. But then again, such humble beginnings were often the case for the generation of warriors who would display unspeakable gallantry in the years to come.
In October of 1942, Bolden would join the Army as an infantryman and in short, order would find himself on a boat to Europe. By December of 1944, Bolden was a Staff Sergeant with the 30th Infantry Division as they pushed through Europe with sights set on the German homeland. Unfortunately for Bolden and the rest of the Allied troops in late 1944 Europe, the Germans would have one last massive assault up their sleeves that December.
The Battle of the Bulge kicked off on December 16th in the midst of a brutal winter as the Germans famously pushed into the Allied lines causing confusing and chaos. And yet, as the Allies regained their footing they began to push back after halting the German advance, and it was time to reclaim lost territory and continue the advance towards the homeland. For Bolden, Belgium would be the scene of his inexplicable gallantry, and he forced 35 German SS troops to make their final stand
For Bolden, Belgium would be the scene of his inexplicable gallantry, and he forced 35 German SS troops to make their final stand of the war.
Storming the SS
On December 23rd, 1944 Bolden would find himself and the rest of Company I of the 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division in the thick of this massive German winter assault near Petit-Coo Belgium. As his Company advanced, they were suddenly pinned down by massive amounts of machine-gun and small-arms fire coming from a house approximately 200 yards to the front of their position.
Their dire position was then exacerbated when German mortar and tank artillery shells began to rain down up his Company. It was at this moment that Bolden and a fellow soldier determined the only way out was forward and directly toward the enemy strong point.
On their own initiative, the pair crawled forward under the heavy fire towards what they knew for certain was a vastly numerically superior force. Taking up assault positions near the house, the plan was for his fellow soldiers to lay down covering fire from across the street while Bolden charged the house alone to deploy grenades.