War stories are replete with the horrors of armed conflict from the Iliad of Homer, to the most recent stories of our post 9/11 warriors. These real stories are also often filled with accounts of uncompromising courage in the face of the gravest of dangers.
There are some war stories that seem to defy all logic, that possess a strange mixture of gutsy bravado and the sharp edge of gallows humor, that take place under the most unusual of circumstances and that somehow, by the grace of God, result in surprising and historically important consequences.
This is one of those stories.
Toward the end of the war in Europe, in April of 1945, Capt. T. Moffat Burris was leading his men toward the inevitable final assault on Berlin. He had already been seasoned by combat, having parachuted into battle during Operation Market Garden, and come ashore with the invading U.S. and allied forces at places like Salerno in Sicily and Anzio on the Italian peninsula, south of Rome.
He and his troops had also been involved in the liberation of at least one concentration camp, the one at Wobbelin.
Follow us on Instagram
Get deals on patriotic items from The Veterans Site store each week!
Now, tired, but feeling the rising confidence that the end was near, they were only 90 miles away from Berlin, poised for that final assault. But orders came down from General Eisenhower to “Stay put.” They were to stop where they were. They were ordered not to cross the Elbe River, in order to let the Russians take Berlin.
This just didn’t sit right with our Capt. Burris.
In this video you will see and hear Burris tell the story. You will see that he is frail and that his voice is soft with age, but he recounts the story of what he did over the next few hours, with steady determination and a sly, impish kind of humor. And the story he tells will blow your mind. It seems utterly improbable, but it happened and it is a matter of WWII history.
Enjoy this little piece of history.
The Veterans Site honors the man behind this story, Capt. T Moffat Burris. His audacity and courage, his dedication to the cause of liberty and his service to the country deserve to be remembered. He is yet another example of that generation that we have come to know as the Greatest Generation.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.