The Washington Post
By T. Rees Shapiro
Published: November 25, 2015
"I was not sure I was going to live until morning," Graff said in an interview this week at his home. "I prayed to God for one more sunrise." He saw another dawn on that distant November day. Just as he has for almost 26,000 mornings since.
Richard Graff is a 91 year-old veteran from Ashburn, Va., who has been visiting classrooms to talk with students about his experiences in battle. KATE PATTERSON/FOR THE WASHINGTON POSTASHBURN, Va. — On Thanksgiving Day in 1944, Dick Graff opened his Army-issue mess kit and took comfort in his turkey and mashed potatoes, a welcome respite from the brutal battlefront near Weisweiler, Germany.
As a soldier with the 104th Infantry Division, the 20-year-old who grew up on a hog and cattle farm in Iowa was grateful for the hot meal a world away. Things had changed in the few weeks since he had narrowly survived his first combat experience. The night mission had called for Graff and the other U.S. troops in his unit to maneuver through a forest, and as they moved, German artillery shells began to quake the earth around him.
The bombardment seemed endless. The Army had trained him how to fight and how to shoot machine guns, but the terror of facing enemy fire was like nothing he could have imagined.
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