Super Senior: Bill Busier
"Born and lived in Shelburne. In a town like that, never did I think I would go all over the world like that," said Bill Busier.
We need to go back 78 years, when a young Busier joined the Vermont National Guard. It was 1941 and the country was on the verge of war. What was going to be a year stint for him, lasted the whole war when the Guard was nationalized.
That December came Pearl Harbor and Busier was shipped off to the island of Espirtu Santo, a large military base 1,500 miles off the coast of Australia. The ship, the SS President Coolidge hit a U.S. mine in the harbor. Busiea helped get his fellow countrymen off the vessel before it sank. He received a Soldier's Medal for his heroism.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you feel like you're a hero?
Bill Busier: No, I wasn't a hero. I just did what I could do.
But his travels didn't end fighting the Japanese. He later transferred into the infantry and landed in Europe in 1944. "It rained so hard that the mud was almost over our boots," he recalled.
Busier was heading to the Ardennes in Belgium, on the Western Front. It was the last German offensive of the war. "They bombed us, shelled us, mortar, everything -- for about four and-a-half hours," he said.
The Americans were overwhelmed and cut off on two sides. "And what was happening was the Germans broke through on both sides and they were going like this to pinch us off," Busier said.
Aptly named -- The Battle of the Bulge. "It's the worse screwed up mess I've ever been in," Busier said. "We were running out of ammunition and food. There was no food from the 13th to the 19th."
They got the order to destroy their weapons and surrender.
Reporter Joe Carroll: What was your feelings at the time? Were you scared, were you angry?
Bill Busier: Angry. I was angry. I was crying as I was smashing my weapons.
The Americans, now POWs were marched into Germany. "We laid down in the snow and cuddled up to each other until the morning," Busier said.
At the prison camp, Busier says a loaf of bread was divided between seven men along with a canteen of flavorless soup. A routine for over four months before Bill and the others were liberated by the Americans. With the Germans gone, Busier and a buddy found a camera in an enemy barracks and took pictures. "Well, I sure miss all these guys," he said, looking at the photos.
Busier is now 101. He's one of two that are still alive. "Well, they were just like my brothers, you know," he said.
Busier came home and met Marge and raised a daughter. Life went back to being normal. The couple have been married for over 70 years. He will never forget what he did around the world, but for him, it was just what you had to do. "I tried to do my part, that's all," he said.