By CLINT FOSTER
It was a freezing morning in Belgium on December 16, 1944. Thick snow blanketed the area around Bastogne as the darkness of night had yet to give way to the sun of a new morning. American soldiers found little relief from the elements in the thickly wooded Ardennes Forest. Among them was Second Lieutenant L.O. “Larry” Holloway, the leader of a mortar platoon, who could not have been farther from his home in Mineral Wells, Texas.
Suddenly, at 5:30 a.m., Nazi artillery opened fire and the 6th Panzer Army launched its attack on the advancing Allied troops, thus beginning the 40-day struggle known as the Battle of the Bulge.
At some point in the chaos of that first assault, Holloway was killed and declared as “missing in action.” It was not until 45 years later, in November of 1990, that his remains were found and he could be given a proper burial.
Few people know this story better than Bob Bellamy.
Bellamy, a resident historian and friend of Holloway’s family, will be the speaker at the Mineral Wells Heritage Association this Thursday for a program about Holloway and the concerted effort that was made to find and bury his body.
“I was very close with that family,” Bellamy said. “John Winters (Holloway’s uncle) was my best friend and his sister was a very good friend of mine. I attended [Holloway’s] funeral and met some 20 to 25 members of his company. It was quite an emotional experience.”
Holloway, who is now buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, was the first of 59 soldiers declared M.I.A. in his company, to be found because of a concerted effort by his brothers in arms.
According to Bellamy, the story begins with two Belgian boys who got a metal detector for Christmas. Eager to use their new gift, the boys went out to the site of the battle to search for relics. During their treasure hunt, they discovered the corpse of an American soldier. They turned it over to the U.S. Embassy, who then sent it to a forensics lab in Hawaii, where it was positively identified as one of the M.I.A. from Holloway’s company.