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In early 1945 some 50,000 or more Germans formed a triangle for a last ditch stand against the Allies. The triangle was formed by the Rhine, Moselle, and Saar rivers. As they crossed those three rivers, they planned on blowing up all the bridges behind them to slow down the Allies while they set up defenses on the other side.
However, the Americans First Army reached the Rhine at Remagen between Cologne and Bonn and found the bridge still intact. American tanks had stormed into town with such fury that the Germans were taken by complete surprise and had no time to destroy it. Ten minutes before they were to have blown it up, the tanks of the 9th Armored Division rolled across it into the Rhineland Province.
Ten days after the first crossing of the Rhine at Remagen, the big Ludendorff Bridge collapsed which was weakened by the great weight and volume of the Allies traffic and the Germans' shelling. Fortunately, few troops were on the span when it collapsed. American engineers went to work at once to replace it. The General estimated it would take 48 hours to complete it; the Colonel said maybe it could be done in 36 hours and the Lieutenant Colonel said possibly in 24 hours.
But a bunch of determined engineers and their junior officers, sweating and swearing, did it in nine hours. They built the longest pontoon Treadway bridge in the world, 1,146 feet across the Rhine River, breaking every existing bridge building record to do it. No army in the world ever built a bridge any faster. The 202nd group of Engineers and the 17th Armored Engineers did it. It was finished far ahead of the rest of the bridges in the river including those built by the British and Canadians.
I was talking about that bridge to one of Carroll County's finest citizens and he told me that he had a part in building that bridge. This man I am speaking of truly loves his God and country and especially his home town. He has been a great advocate of for his fellow veterans and their activities. I am speaking of Carl Miller. I then asked him, what part did you have in building that bridge. The following are his very words to me:
"I was a truck driver that hauled the pontoons to the river. I painted the left door of my truck that said 'Dear Mom I'm Carrollton Bound.' As a result of that sign I met a man (Donald Yeager) from Harlem Springs, Ohio. He was a truck driver from another outfit. He saw my sign as we were passing each other. What a coincidence it was. We had our pictures taken together at the Rhine.
Us truck drivers transported 96 of those pontoons 10 miles back from the Rhine River. We had them camouflaged so the Germans couldn't seem them from the air. The Military Police gave us drivers priority over everything on the road that day. They would give us the high sign to speed up when they saw us coming. We had a field day that day for we could drive wide open and no one would say anything to us.
We would back up to the bridges location and the E Company engineers would unload the pontoons with their cranes and install them in the bridge. I believe with all my mind and heart that building (that historic bridge) helped to shorten the war by two or three months. Our tanks just poured across as the final Treadway was installed."
Please remember to keep all of our Military personnel and their families in your prayers.
Charles R. Pearson
Legion Post 375