log in to manage your profile and account
- Create your account
- Receive up-to-date newsletters
- Set up text alerts
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: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 11:16 PM
— 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.
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.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 2:13 AM
HOUSTON — 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.
"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.
3. He and Barbara had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in U.S. history. The pair wed Jan. 6, 1945.
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.
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."
9. He "has parachuted eight times," CNN reported. His most recent skydive was a tandem jump in celebration of his 90th birthday.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 6:40 PM
WELCH, Okla. — 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.
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.
Here are the most recent DOC pictures of Ronnie Busick, he's in custody now in Newton, Kansas.— Tiffany Alaniz (@TiffanyAlaniz) April 23, 2018
Investigators say Busick, Welch, & Pennington killed Danny & Kathy, burned down their home and kidnapped Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman. They still need tips to find bodies. @FOX23 pic.twitter.com/93MVLE450s
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.
Ballard says there are polaroid pictures taken of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman taken after they were kidnapped that have been seen my many people. Investigators do not know exactly how long they were alive after they were kidnapped. @FOX23— Tiffany Alaniz (@TiffanyAlaniz) April 23, 2018
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 email@example.com.
Officials said a private reward of $50,000 still stands for information related to the location of the girls.
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
Surface Street Incidents
>> RELATED: WHIO App-Winter
Ongoing Construction & Other Closures
Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.
Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map.