The Fall of the Screaming Eagles

A charter-jet crash kills 248 members of a famed Airborne unit

Christmas has not been kind to the Screaming Eagles of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. In December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, the paratroopers of the 101st were under siege in Bastogne, Belgium, short of food and ammunition and encircled by German panzer units. In a Christmas Eve message to his men, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe asked rhetorically, "What's merry about all this? We're fighting, it's cold, we aren't home." Yet McAuliffe cheered up his troops, who held on valiantly until the German advance was blunted. The general's one-word reply to a Nazi ultimatum to surrender--"Nuts!"--made history of...

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