Port Huron: WWII veteran remembers his time in the Army; Old soldier was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge

By Bob Gross

Times Herald

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) -- "Salty" Schultz holds up a small bullet, deformed by its passage through his arm and torso more than 66 years ago.

"That's the little thing that got me home," Schultz said. "But I didn't want to come home that way."

Schultz's given name is Edwin, but he's been Salty since former Times Herald sports editor Fred Vincent wrote he was no bigger "than a pinch of salt" while describing a middle school city championship basketball game. The Port Huron native, who will be 90 in October, was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge and is one of the oldest World War II veterans in the Blue Water Area.

As Memorial Day approaches, Schultz shared his story with the Times Herald.

"I was wounded on March the 15th of 1945, in Bastogne (Belgium) in the Battle of the Bulge because they put me with Gen. (George) Patton," Schultz said.

He served as a sergeant in a machine gun section of the U.S. Army's 318th Infantry Regiment. The Siege of Bastogne, which lasted from Dec. 20 to 27, 1944, was one of the pivotal fights in the Battle of the Bulge.

"We had to go in there and try to relieve our men that were bottled up in Bastogne at that time, which we did," Schultz said. "And after it was over with, the Bastogne battle, we were on our way out of there when the Germans attacked us, and that's when I got hit."

Schultz said his unit was in the Argonne Forest in France when he was wounded by a rifle bullet.

"When I got hit it went through ... my arm here, cut the nerve in the side of my arm, went underneath my rib bone, my rib cage, and the doc took it out of my back and he gave it to me," Schultz said. "I've had it ever since."

He received the Silver Star and a Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster.

"I got the oak leaf cluster where you got wounded twice," Schultz said. "One other time I just got grazed by a bullet, and they gave me the oak leaf cluster."

Schultz remembers the bitter cold of northern France and Belgium in 1945.

"The worst part of the war for me, I think, as I look back onto it now, was the weather," he said. "It was the winter time.

"We had to cross these little cricks ... but they were deep enough we'd break the ice and we'd fall into it, and we'd be wet and we couldn't stop, we had to keep walking, and we'd walk all day or part of the day in wet clothes," he said.

"That was awful. I remember that more than anything else."

Schultz was 20 years old in December 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States entered World War II. Like many young men of the era, he was starting life on his own when duty called.

On April 16, 1943, he married Virginia Chadwick. In November of the same year, Schultz headed to Fort Hood, Texas, for basic training after being drafted into the Army.

His wife died in 2002 after 59 years of marriage.

"I had a deferment, and we got married April the 16th, then I went in November, so we had that much time together," he said. "She was some girl, I'll tell you. She was a lady."

He said Virginia followed him to Texas and later to a hospital in Louisville, Ky., when he came home after being wounded.

"When I went to Texas and did my basic training, my wife came down and she stayed at a home and did the housework for the lady and man ...," Schultz said. "So I could see her quite often, and the guys were real good to me.

"They gave me their time, and they'd take my watch and everything so I could go and see her.

"She did the same thing when I went overseas. She and her girlfriend came to New York, and my officer let me have the night off to be with her."

Salty and Virginia had two children. Their daughter, Pamela Carlisle, still lives in Port Huron. Their son, David, was killed in action May 4, 1968 while serving with the Army's 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam.

Schultz said his son received many of the same medals as he had, including the Purple Heart and Silver Star. He keeps David's medals on display in his living room, along with photos of his wife, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Schultz, who worked at Mueller Brass in Port Huron, said many of his comrades are gone now.

"I used to play a lot of cards, we used to have poker games here at the house and different places, and every one of my poker buddies has died," he said.

Published: Tue, May 31, 2011