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Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 1:01 AM
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Tucked between dollar bills, nestled next to a black-and-white photograph of his wife Gloria, Stan Saltz pulls out a second snapshot, the one of him as a 19-year-old Army private and survivor of the bloodiest battle in the second World War.
But the photo isn’t about the Florida resident. It’s about the German shepherd, a four-legged member of the German Army who, by Saltz’s account, saved him and everyone in his squad as they fought Germans in subzero temperatures in the woods of Belgium.
Seventy-three years later, Saltz, now a Delray Beach retiree, still tears up over the picture of his buddy, the one he named Santa.
Sunday, Saltz was among friends who could relate, He and other survivors of the Battle of the Bulge gathered in West Palm Beach for the anniversary of the battle’s beginning on Dec. 16, 1944.
Their select group is shrinking rapidly as the generation ages. They were youngsters that December so long ago, but now Saltz is 92. The local events’ organizer, George Fisher, is 94.
This chapter of Battle of the Bulge veterans began in 1998 with 425 former soldiers. In a time when other chapters across the country are folding as survivors’ numbers dwindle. Florida’s Southeast Chapter stands as the nation’s vanguard with 123.
As Fisher likes to say, “Many of us may not remember what we had for lunch, but we will never forget the 10 below zero, the snow and the horrors of frontline infantry combat.”
On Dec. 16, 1944, three German armies began what would be their last major offensive campaign on the Western Front. Adolf Hitler intended to split the Allied armies in northwest Europe by a surprise push through the Ardennes Forest.
Saltz walked 27 miles with the Army’s 75th Infantry, enticed to continue with the promise of a truck down the road that never materialized. They arrived on Christmas Eve, in time for Saltz to relieve a soldier in what was left of the 106th.
“He gave me a hug and took off. Didn’t even tell me where ‘Jerry’ was,” Saltz recalled. “Must’ve been maybe a half hour later. I’m in the foxhole. And I heard this – “ at this point, Saltz makes a low, quiet growl.
Saltz got up for a look and found a German police dog that didn’t seem long for this world.
“He was bloodied up by his master. His tongue was hanging out. His eyes were glazing over,” Saltz said.
Saltz brought the dog into the foxhole with him, gave him water, fed him K-rations and named him Santa. “He lapped it up and never left my side,” he said.
Not only did Santa stick around. He also alerted Saltz every time a German soldier was nearby. He wouldn’t make a sound, but he would tug on Saltz’s pant leg. “He was very smart.”
“He could smell a German half a mile away,” Saltz said. “Everyone wanted to go on patrol with Saltz. Why? Because Santa was there.”
When Saltz was hit by shrapnel above his right eye and rushed down the hill for medical care, Santa went with and didn’t even let the nurse near the man until Saltz told Santa to sit and stay while she stitched him up. They both promptly returned to the front line.
Against all odds, the Allies held the line at a steep price: 81,000 American casualties including 19,000 dead. But none were from Saltz’s squad.
“My life and my squad were saved by a German Army police dog,” Saltz said.
The Battle of the Bulge ended on Jan. 25, 1945. And shortly after, Saltz, still bandaged at his temple, and Santa posed for a photo.
Saltz says God sent Santa to him that Christmas Eve, and he was gone just as abruptly by February or March, hopping off a train full of troops to do his business on solid ground. The train then headed out without him.
“We cried for a week,” Saltz said.
In another breath, Saltz will tell you that same year he became an atheist “when I saw Dachau.”
Saltz came home. Married Gloria who stayed with him until she died 67 years later. He went on to work in the food service industry. The couple had two children and four grandchildren, but no dogs.
“Nobody could replace (Santa),” he said.
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 8:42 AM
Updated: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 10:03 AM
BOSTON — UPDATE, 10:03 a.m. 1/21/2018: Despite the shutdown of the United States government early Saturday, the NFL announced Sunday morning that the Armed Forces Network will air the AFC and NFC Championship games.
The NFL also said it is providing free access to the games via NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.
Meanwhile, Congress is back at work Sunday, attempting to create a deal to end the shutdown.
Great news as Armed Forces Network will air both Championship Sunday NFL games today for our service members around the world— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) January 21, 2018
ORIGINAL STORY: As a result of lawmakers failing to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending, the United States government has been shut down indefinitely – meaning everyone has been affected, including troops overseas.
There is a lot of fallout from the shutdown. From government employees who aren't being paid, including the Defense Department, to the Armed Forces Network being taken off the air, the effects of a standstill government can be felt across the board.
Since the AFN has been taken off the air, that means many of our troops overseas won't be able to watch the NFL playoffs Sunday.
Surely it's not the biggest issue surrounding a government shutdown, but it's a big morale issue.
Watching the Patriots on the Armed Forces Network has been a comforting piece of home for army Sgt. Matt Connolly, who's serving in South Korea.
"It's kind of the only thing we can do for fun over here," Connolly told WFXT.
For the first time since he's been stationed in Korea, his family came to visit him for the AFC Championship game.
"I'm actually on leave right now. My family from Boston is here right now and we were looking forward to watching the game," Connolly said.
With no one to run it, AFN is off the air.
The NFL says it is providing free access to Sunday's Championships via the NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.
"No matter what, I'm going to watch them," Connolly said.
Sen. Ed Markey says he's in a holding pattern right now as he says he and most of his colleagues are preparing to negotiate through the night – but it's still unclear if that will be an option.
Immigration issues are at the center of the shutdown. Many Republicans don't want to negotiate on those issues until a spending bill is passed and the government re-opens.
However, those immigration issues – including the DREAMERS Act – are a priority for many Democrats.
Markey told WFXT that he believes everyone needs to continue working to find some sort of compromise, and he wants President Donald Trump to take the lead.
"Bill Belichick is telling the New England Patriots for tomorrow, 'Do your job,' and we are saying to President Trump for tomorrow, 'Do your job, Mr. President. Make sure that the funding is there for our troops. Make sure that our defense is taken care of, but make sure that we also protect child health and the Dreamers,' but thus far he's been unwilling to do his job," Markey said.
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 7:48 AM
PERRIS, Calif. — David and Louise Turpin are facing a string of charges, including torture, after police say the couple kept their 13 children locked away in subhuman conditions in their Perris, California, home. On Thursday, the Turpins made their first court appearance.
David Turpin appeared in chains, wearing a lavender shirt and black jacket while his wife sat nearby, also in chains and a black jacket. The Turpins entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges, some of which date back to 2010. The district attorney says the couple is facing 94 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
During the arraignment, the Turpins were quiet and spoke only to say they acknowledged their right to a speedy preliminary hearing, CBS reports. They will appear in court again on Feb. 23, and their bail was set at $13 million.
Although the Perris torture defendants were in street clothes, they were in chains - just as authorities said the children of David and Louise Turpin were sometimes held. pic.twitter.com/PSs5PteLbZ— Brian Rokos (@Brian_Rokos) January 18, 2018
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a press conference, “As a prosecutor, there are cases that stick with you, that will haunt you. Sometimes, in this business, we’re faced with looking at human depravity, and that’s what we’re looking at here.”
Authorities said the parents were able to keep their children hidden away by listing their home as a private school. Some of the kids, who ranged in ages from 2 to 29, reportedly didn’t know what a police officer was.
The children were only allowed to eat once a day and shower twice a year, authorities said. However, the parents reportedly did allow them to keep journals, and authorities said the kids filled hundreds of notebooks. Those have not been released and are still being reviewed by law enforcement.
The children are currently being cared for in the hospital, authorities said. The Riverside University Health System has set up a fund for the children that will go to their long-term needs, according to a press release. The hospital said the children have already seen a tremendous outpouring of support.
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 9:23 AM
— Millions of Americans are ready to file their 1040s when the tax season opens Jan. 29 , but will the Internal Revenue service be open to process them? And how long will it take to get a refund?
When Congress failed to agree on a funding bill early Saturday, the U.S. government officially ran out of money for the fiscal year and shut down, triggering furloughs for “non-essential” employees.
That could impact the more than 155 million individual tax returns that the IRS is expected to receive in 2018.
The plan says that “If the IRS is confronted by a lapse in appropriations during the 2018 Tax Filing Season, the IRS will need to continue return processing activities to the extent necessary to protect Government property, which includes tax revenue, and maintain the integrity of the federal tax collection process, along with certain other activities authorized under the Anti-Deficiency Act.”
Fine, fine. But what about those refunds?
Here’s what will -- and won’t -- happen:
There will be no refunds issued
There will be no audits or examinations, although there may be some exceptions
There will be no processing of non-disaster relief transcripts
Forms such as 1040X or amended returns will not be processed
There will be no non-automated collections
According to Forbes, here are some functions that will continue:
Mailing of tax forms
Call centers, which will remain open during filing season (more than 10,000 customers service representatives will handle telephone calls)
Processing returns that include payments
Civil and criminal tax cases
Active criminal investigations
The IRS website, IRS.gov;
More than 3,000 IT-related workers will remain on the job
This is a contingency plan, of course. The last time the government shut down in 2013, everything closed, including customer service and call centers, Forbes reported.
And what about the Republican tax cut bill that President Donald Trump signed into law last month? Tax experts said that a lengthy shutdown could complicate the challenge the IRS faces in implementing the new guidelines, The Washington Post reported.
As Feds Prepare For Shutdown, Here’s What It Means For IRS And Taxpayers https://t.co/OpqBIwxPAS— Kelly Phillips Erb (@taxgirl) January 20, 2018
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 11:34 AM
— Led by Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, several members of Congress asked for their pay to be withheld during the government shutdown, CNN reported.
“I don't think it's right for me to get paid during a government shutdown while my constituents are being furloughed and important and necessary services are being limited or halted all together,” Delaney, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It's time to be responsible and come together on a bipartisan deal to fund the government.”
I will donate any congressional pay I receive during this shutdown to a local charity. I don't think it's right for me to get paid while my constituents are being furloughed and important services are being limited.— Rep. John Delaney (@RepJohnDelaney) January 20, 2018
Delaney makes $174,000 annually, which is the base salary for members of Congress. According to Delaney’s spokesman, Will McDonald, Delaney will donate his pay to the Mercy Health Clinic in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is the same clinic where he donated his salary during the 2013 government shutdown, CNN reported.
Republican Reps. Rick Allen of Georgia and Mia Love of Utah tweeted Saturday that they also would not accept pay during the shutdown.
Allen said in a tweet that he plans to donate the withheld pay.
I cannot, in good conscience, accept my salary while @SenateDems refuse to pay our brave men and women in uniform - that's why I have asked for my salary to be withheld until this #SchumerShutdown is over.— Rick W. Allen (@RepRickAllen) January 21, 2018
I will donate my entire salary earned during this shutdown to charity. pic.twitter.com/LQ7tBZybYJ