Mincone, Michael 31369250
On this ground, Co F of the 359th Regiment from the 90th Division was filing up the (N-15) road to Bastogne. The mission was to take the crossroads and Bohey Hill. The mission began 11 January 23:20 with the 2nd battalion on the right of the road and 3rd battalion on the left, they took several prisoners while they approached the crest of the hill; this would become known as the "Surprise Night Attack", as written by Raymond E. Bell Jr. the son of Colonel Raymond Bell, commander of the 359th regiment, 90th Division.
In 2008 when clearing my land of 65+ years of neglect I discovered the 16+ foxholes and impressions, all of the remaining traces were mapped and documented. While clearing one of the holes part of a helmet liner was exposed. A few hours of work reviled a "US" helmet liner as well as some clips of M1-Garand, brass buckles from equipment, ration packets of lemonade, coffee, a pen, and evidence of the holes prior occupant, a German soldier. In the helmet liner the name Mincone - 31369250. I began a search into the name, it wasn't long before I found his information in the archives, but also additional information surfaced from St. Louis, Michael Minconi from Boston Ma, served in Co. F, of the 359th. A morning report also showed that during the "Surprise Night Attack" he was WIA (wounded in action). I tried for 10 years to contact the family and return the items as well as learn more about the man who had been injured in the foxhole there. I finally made contact in 2018 and learned that Mincone had not talked about his ordeal in the war. The family told me that they had never learned what happened to him to earn his Purple Heart. I gave the story about the night attack and told them that he had been injured in or near his foxhole that was now my ground.
The story is now printed on a board among the trail of foxholes that are in his platoon zone, plate reads:
It was here on this ground, on the night of 11 January 1945, platoons of F Company, 2nd Battalion occupied after running into a patrol of German soldiers of the 9th Volksgrenadiers and the last elements of the 5th Fallschirmjäger Division. The foxholes were taken over by the men of Company F. “In the beginning, the operation was smooth and quiet” witnessed veteran Private Tom Ingram, who was a machine gunner at the tail end of the column. Then, in the early hours of the 12th, Germans holding positions 480 meters east of Co. F was at a loss for what happened with the connections to the troops holding the line along the road (N-15). They sent up additional troops to re-establish contact and verify the situation. It was then the fierce fighting began. After several intense hours of fighting, gains of territory were in US hands, elements of the 5th Fallschirmjäger Division all but wiped out and the movement east to mop up the area began to push forward. In foxhole 6, Private Michael Mincone suffered light wounds during the action and was evacuated to Mecher-Dunkrodt. He was one of six casualties on this place; He survived the war and returned to Quincy Massachusetts. Private Russel Clinedeinst suffered heavy wounds and died, he now lies in the military cemetery in Hamm Luxembourg.
Michael Mincone has a small plate with his name and serial number on it at the foxhole. I have also built a monument dedicated to the men of F Co. I made it completely from one piece of the tree from the ground. I started the carving with a chainsaw and finished by hand.
In 2015, vandals trespassed onto the land and destroyed many parts of the camp, and even tried to pull out and destroy the monument, it is now taken away. I will have a cement version made.
Objects recovered from the hole, as mentioned I wanted the family to have these, but they refused to say that they are better to stay over here and taken care of.
The best reward for such a find is not what these things are worth, or even having them in a display in the house, it's the story it discovers and the connection to the family of that person, the human side of the war, and making new friends in the process. I would not have gotten to know about a young man thrown into war, nor the family and what the impact to them as if the objects had not been discovered.
In closing a paragraph taken in kind from the family.
"When he passed away, my father inherited some of his belongings including his lighter, and several of his war medals including his Purple Heart. The story of his Purple Heart was lost to history. Because he never spoke of what happened during the war, we had no idea of the circumstances which led to him to earn this honor. Until you contacted us. Now we have a clear picture of the events and even know where he was when he was wounded. If this doesn't demonstrate the power and value of the work you are doing, I don't know what would. We sincerely thank you.
My family is happy to learn of the memorial you are building and hope you continue your efforts. While it would be great to have some of his belongings, we feel they may be more valuable for you to have them with the other items you have on your property. Perhaps one day we can come and see the memorial and thank you in person.
I'm attaching pictures of his medals and lighter if you would like to see them. My family and I are grateful for the history you have given us. Please continue your efforts and continue to give a voice to hero's who gave so much without asking for anything in return.
With great appreciation,