Four-legged 'Santa' a savior during Battle of the Bulge

Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 1:01 AM

World War II veteran Stan Saltz, 92, holds a photo of himself and a dog named Santa, which he found during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
Andres Leiva/Palm Beach Post
World War II veteran Stan Saltz, 92, holds a photo of himself and a dog named Santa, which he found during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.(Andres Leiva/Palm Beach Post)

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.

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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.

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Two days after Barbara Bush's death, a granddaughter gives birth

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 11:16 PM

Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO and Founder of FEED Projects (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Visa, Inc. )
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Visa, Inc.
Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO and Founder of FEED Projects (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Visa, Inc. )(Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Visa, Inc.)

Just two days after the death of former first lady Barbara Bush, her granddaughter Lauren Bush Lauren and her husband, David, welcomed Max Walker Lauren to the family.

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According to a Facebook post from Barbara’s Bush son Neil Bush, Max was born on Thursday. Arriving two weeks before his mom’s due date, the baby boy weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

Neil shared the news Friday morning and spoke about his mother’s passing as well as recognizing the moment as part of the circle of life:

“Maria and I were so blessed to spend lots of time with mom and dad during mom's last weeks and we are so grateful for the condolences and the outpouring of love expressed towards her by many, many friends. Barbara Bush was loved by everyone. She lived a remarkable life blessing family, friends, and total strangers around the world. Mom left on her own terms. In the final hours she was comfortable, loving, surrounded by family, holding hands with dad. Maria and I will always be grateful for being able to say a proper goodbye to our wonderful mother. And then two days later, yesterday morning, two weeks before her due date, Lauren Bush Lauren gave birth to a beautiful 7 lb 8 oz baby boy Max Walker Lauren. The circle of life. God is good.”

Bush’s daughter Lauren is married to the son of fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Lauren and David were married in 2011 and had their first son in 2015.

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George H.W. Bush: 9 things to know about the 41st president of the United States

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 2:13 AM

Biography of George H.W. Bush

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush was hospitalized Sunday in Houston after an infection spread to his blood, just days after the death of his wife, Barbara.

>> George H.W. Bush hospitalized with blood infection days after death of Barbara Bush

"He is responding to treatments and appears to be recovering," his spokesman, Jim McGrath, tweeted Monday.

Here are nine things you should know about Bush, who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993:

1. He has a form of Parkinson's disease. The former president uses a motorized scooter or wheelchair to get around.

2. He is "the longest-living president in U.S. history," Time reported last November. The 93-year-old Bush, born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, is 111 days older than the second longest-living U.S. president, Jimmy Carter. 

>> George H.W. Bush now longest-living president in U.S. history

3. He and Barbara had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in U.S. history. The pair wed Jan. 6, 1945.

>> Barbara Bush: What you should know about the former first lady

4. He graduated from Yale in 1948. According to CNN, he earned his bachelor's degree in economics in just 2 1/2 years.

5. He has five living children: George W., John (known as Jeb), Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. George W. Bush served two terms as president from 2001 to 2009. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ran for the Republican nomination in the run-up to November's election, but lost his bid to President Donald Trump.

Another child, Pauline Robinson "Robin" Bush, died as a child in 1953 after being diagnosed with leukemia, The Washington Post reported.

>> PHOTOS: George H. W. Bush through the years

6. He served in the Navy during World War II. Bush, who reportedly enlisted on his 18th birthday in 1942, flew 58 combat missions during the war, including one that required he be rescued by a submarine after his plane was hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. For his bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

7. He launched his political career in 1963. He served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan's vice president.

8. In 1989, he became the first sitting vice president to win the presidency since 1837. According to CNN, he "offered his predecessors  Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan  secure telephones so he could reach them day or night."

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9. He "has parachuted eight times," CNN reported. His most recent skydive was a tandem jump in celebration of his 90th birthday.

>> Click here to watch

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Biography of Barbara Pierce Bush(www.accessatlanta.com)

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Teen girls abducted: Arrest made in 19-year-old cold case

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Warren Phllip Welch (deceased), Ronnie Busick and David Pennington (deceased), are suspected in the 1999 disappearance of two Oklahoma girls. (Kansas Department of Corrections)
Warren Phllip Welch (deceased), Ronnie Busick and David Pennington (deceased), are suspected in the 1999 disappearance of two Oklahoma girls. (Kansas Department of Corrections)

Investigators made a break in the 1999 disappearance of two Welch, Oklahoma, girls.

Officials charged Ronnie Busick in connection with their disappearance, according to KOKI

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Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were 16 years old in 1999, when they planned a sleepover to celebrate Freeman's birthday. 

The day after the sleepover, firefighters found Freeman's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, shot to death in their burned-out home. The girls, however, had disappeared. 

For years, investigators searched for answers, interviewed several potential suspects and pleaded for information surrounding the girls' disappearance. 

KOKI reported in 2017 that "extremely valuable" information was turned over by Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey. 

Officials said they charged Busick Sunday in connection with the case. He faces four charges of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and a final count of arson.

Busick is currently in custody in Newston, Kansas, according to investigators.

At least two other people were involved in the case, they said. Those two, identified as Warren Phillip Welch and David Pennington, have since died. 

Members of the victim’s families learned Lauria and Ashley were likely kept alive some time after their disappearance, but they have since died. Their bodies have not been recovered.

An affidavit claimed Welch kept photographs in a leather briefcase that showed the girls bound and gagged at his Picher home during their last days. According to the affidavit, multiple people said they had seen the pictures, but the suspects reportedly threatened them.

The affidavit claimed the girls were tied up, drugged and raped before they were killed. It said the girls were strangled and their bodies were dumped into a pit, which may have been a mine shaft near Picher.

Multiple people told investigators that both Welch and Pennington dealt methamphetamine, according to the affidavit. One person reportedly told investigators that Pennington had said the girls had entered a room where Freeman’s parents were buying drugs on the night of the crime.

Another witness reportedly said that a conversation between Welch, Pennington and Busick had implied that the Freeman parents had been murdered over a debt. That witness said the suspects had also hinted that they had taken the two girls and eventually killed them, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said an insurance card found near the scene connected to a car that investigators believed to be connected to a vehicle in Welch's possession helped them in the case.

It said that the suspects had threatened the lives of people who may have had information about the crimes.

Investigators said they still need people to come forward about where the girls' bodies may be. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-522-8017 or via email at tips@osbi.ok.gov.

Officials said a private reward of $50,000 still stands for information related to the location of the girls.

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Dayton traffic from the WHIO Traffic Center

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 1:18 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 2:16 AM

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic .

Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM.

Major Highway Incidents

  • On US 68 at the 31 milemarker in Clark County, a vehicle crash with reports of entrapment at 2:10 a.m.

Surface Street Incidents

  • No incidents to report.

>> RELATED: WHIO App-Winter

>> RELATED: Track the latest conditions in your neighborhood on our live WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • Arlington Road between Pleasant Plain and Upper Lewisburg Salem Road, BRIDGE CLOSURE, March 5 - Sept. 30. All ramps for I-70 will remain open. 
  • Keowee Street north of Stanley Avenue, bridge closed until 2019. The official detour is: Keowee Street to Stanley Avenue to I-75 to Wagner Ford Road and back to Dixie. More information is available here.
  • Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East, RAMP CLOSURE March 28 - Sept 30, 2018. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H. McGee Blvd. to US 35 east.
  • SR 4 north/south between I-70 and Lower Valley Pike, Lane closure April 2 - 26. One northbound and two southbound lanes will remain open. 
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west, RAMP CLOSURE, March 12 - Sept. 30. The official detour is: I-75 north to US 35 east to Jefferson/Main Street to Ludlow Street to US 35 west. 
  • Airport Access Road South between US 40 and I-70, Lane closure April 2 - 27. One southbound lane will remain open. 
  • SR 48 between First Street and Riverdale Street, Lane closure April 2, 2018 - April 1, 2019. One lane will remain open in each direction.

GREENE COUNTY

  • Red Stewart Airfield (Waynesville Airport) and State Route 725, lane closures April 23 - 27 from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. 
  • State Route 235 between Dayton Yellow Springs and Enon Roads, ROAD CLOSURE for six months. The official detour is U.S. 68, West Hyde, and West Enon Roads.
  • Trebein Road from U.S. 35, Lane restrictions April 16 - August, 2018 for construction of a right turn lane. One lane will remain maintained at all times with flagging operations. 

PREBLE COUNTY

  • State Route 320 at Cedar Springs Road, ROAD CLOSURE for a mudslide until further notice.

WARREN COUNTY

MIAMI COUNTY

  • N. Market Street between Foss Way/Kirk Lane and Stonyridge Avenue, ROAD CLOSURE March 5 at 7 a.m. - Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. 
  • US 36 westbound between Scott Drive and Kienle Drive, Lane closure March 26 - June 30. One westbound lane will remain open. 

DARKE COUNTY

  • SR 49 between Hollansburg-Sampson Road and Arcanum Bears Mill Road, Lane closure April 16 - May 16. One lane will remain open in each direction through the use of portable signal.

MERCER COUNTY

  • SR 117 between US 127 and SR 116, Daily lane closures April 23 - July 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 
  • SR 49 between Menchhofer Road and SR 219, ROAD CLOSURE April 16 - 30. The official detour is: SR 29 to SR 118 to SR 219
  • SR 707 between Taylor Road and Lewis Street, ROAD CLOSURE April 23 - 27. The official detour is US 127 north to SR 117 east 

SHELBY COUNTY

  • SR 47 between Fifth Avenue and Wilkinson Avenue, Lane closures Jan. 21 - Nov. 27. One lane will remain open in each direction at all times. 
  • SR 274 between Shroyer Road and Island Avenue, Lane closure April 9 - June 9. One lane will remain open in each direction. 
  • SR 66 between Basinburg Road and Mason Road, ROAD CLOSURE April 9 - May 11. The official detour is: SR 66 to SR 47 to I-75 to SR 29 to SR 705 to SR 66

CLARK COUNTY

  • I-70 east Ramp to I-675 north, RAMP CLOSURE March 15 - Aug. 15. The official detour is: I-70 east to I-675 south to SR 444 to I-675 north
  • Spangler Road south between Restoration Drive and I-70, Traffic pattern switch March 26 - August 15. Southbound Spangler Road traffic going to I-675 south and I-70 east will be moved to northbound side of I-675. Traffic will then be redirected to the southbound side of I-675 after passing over I-70. 

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY

  • Upper Valley Pike between State Route 296 and Lippincott Road, ROAD CLOSURE, starting April 16 for approximately four weeks.

LOGAN COUNTY

  • US 68 between SR 508 and Township Road 310, ROAD CLOSURE April 23 - 27. The official detour is: US 68 to SR 296 to SR 29 to SR 235 to SR 47 to US 68. 
  • SR 235 between Township Road 93 and Township Road 250, ROAD CLOSURE April 30 - May 4. The official detour is SR 366 to US 33 to SR 385 to SR 117/SR 235.
  • SR 274 between Morris Rose Road and SR 235, Daily lane closures May 1 - June 29 between 7 a.m. 5 p.m. 
  • SR 235 between SR 720 and SR 117, Daily lane closures May 1 - June 29 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • SR 68 between SR 508 and Gunn Town Road, Daily lane closures April 23 - June 29 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

AUGLAIZE COUNTY

  • SR 197 between Township Road 117A and Ridge Street, Lane closure April 2 - May 3. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction through the use of temporary signal.
  • SR 116 between Hesse Road and Baker-Wright Road, Lane closure April 2 - 30. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction through the use of temporary signal.
  • US 33 between SR 29 and I-75, Daily lane closures March 26 - July 31 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction. 
  • US 33 between SR 65 and Center Street, Lane closure April 16 - May 9. One lane will remain open in each direction through the use of temporary signal.

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