Service Time: Ralph enlisted in the US Army on August 19, 1943. He first enlisted in the ski patrol, and then as a paratrooper. Ralph received his initial training at Fort Benning, Ga. , and went overseas in May 1944. He was a member of the
502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. He achieved the rank of Private First Class. The regiment would participate in three major battles during the war: Battle of Normandy, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge.
The Battle of the Bulge started just after dawn on 16 December 1944, the Germans launched a major offensive west through the Ardennes Forest. Their goal was the port city of Antwerp where they hoped to choke off the Allied supply lines. Almost the only American theater reserve were the two refitting airborne divisions. The 101st was ordered to the vitally important town of Bastogne, the central road junction in the Ardennes.
The 101st was jammed into trucks for an overnight rush to Bastogne in Belgium on 18 December.
At Bastogne the 101st Airborne was encircled and the Germans had an almost ten-to-one advantage. Allied control of the air was useless for the first week of the battle, due to miserable weather. The lightly armed 101st, cut off from its supplies, cold, hungry, unable to properly care for its wounded, running low on and even out of ammunition, with little artillery support, held off desperate German attacks for more than a week.
Finally, on 26 December, the 4th Armored Division of Pattons Third Army broke through the encirclement to reinforce the defense. Ralph was wounded at Bastogne in late December 1944 and died of his wounds on 17-Jan-45 he was 19 years old.
Sometime after the Battle of The Bulge, General Eisenhower spoke to the 101st Airborne Division when the unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for its stand at Bastogne. This was the first time in the history of the United States Army that an entire Division had been so honored.
Ralph J. Lefty Blohm, Rye High School Graduate, Class of 1943