March 3, 1918 – January 24, 1945
Seventy-five years ago today Rocco’s best friend was killed in action during the final days of the Battle of the Bulge. On January 24, 1945, just one day before the Battle of the Bulge ended, technical sergeant Robert “Bob” F. Wright was struck by German artillery right outside of Rocco’s foxhole during the attack on the Morscheck crossroads. To read more about Morscheck, please visit Rocco’s oral account here.
Bob Wright was born on March 3, 1918 in Alabama. After that he moved to Michigan, which became his final hometown and remained his last address before entering the service. He would never return. Bob Wright was only 26 years old when he died in Belgium, just 38 days shy of his 27th birthday.
Prior to the Bulge, the town of Verviers in Belgium was liberated by Allied forces in September. It was there Bob Wright met a Belgian family and a woman named Lucienne Lemaire. According to Rocco, they became quite friendly, which we can clearly see in the following photographs as evidenced by the size of Bob’s smile. It’s amazing what a few days off from war can do to a man both physically and emotionally.
Lucienne Lemaire (L) and Bob Wright (R) Bob Wright (L) with a family from Verviers, Belgium.
Unfortunately not much else is known about Bob Wright. If Rocky were still with us today I would have asked him to share his favorite memory of him, I’m sure there were many. I regret not having this conversation with him. Rocky’s memory was as sharp as a tack and I can just picture his eyes lighting up when talking about his service. I can only imagine the stories he would have shared about his best friend, all with a huge smile and reflective eyes. Rocky and Bob were self described as “two of a kind”, so we can deduce that they shared the same personality traits: generous, friendly, lighthearted, and a little bit mischievous. While I don’t know a whole lot about Bob’s life, I know he provided a crucial friendship to my grandfather when he needed it the most. I hope that during the hard times they were both able to escape into their friendship, find solace in their close bond, and forget about the horrors of war, if only for a little while. I am forever grateful for Bob Wright’s service to this country and for being by my grandfather’s side during their campaigns. I have no doubt in my mind that they are now reunited somewhere, and probably even causing a bit of good-natured mischief.
Bob Wright is interred at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium – Plot E, Row 2, Grave 51. I visited his grave twice; in March 2017 on my first trip to Belgium and then again this December for the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. I will never forget his name or his honor, and I hope to visit periodically throughout my lifetime. It’s the least I can do for the man that helped my grandfather navigate through the unknown obstacles and horrors of war.
It is important that we remember these men, whether alive or passed on. If you see a WWII veteran, please talk to them. Learn their story. We owe them everything for our freedom, and they may not be around for much longer. Lest we forget.
Robert F. Wright
Service Number: 36102476
Regiment: 26th Infantry Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion Division – Transport
1st Infantry Division
Company Squadron: C Company
Awards: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart