Notable Deaths

NOTABLE DEATHS

January 12, 2009

HARRY W.O. KINNARD, 93

Noted officer at Battle of the Bulge

Lt. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard, who inspired the storied retort "nuts" to a German surrender ultimatum during the Battle of the Bulge, died Jan. 5 in Arlington, Va.

General Kinnard was perhaps best remembered for what happened in December 1944 at the Belgian town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division, short on clothing and boots in a snowstorm and bitter cold, was surrounded by German troops.

On Dec. 22, two German officers approached the American lines in Bastogne, carrying a demand that the American commander surrender his troops within two hours or face annihilation from an artillery barrage.

The message was passed on to Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, acting as division commander while Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor was in Washington.

General Kinnard, a lieutenant colonel at the time and the division's operations officer, would recall that General McAuliffe "laughed and said: 'Us surrender? Aw, nuts.' "

As General Kinnard related it long afterward in an interview with Patrick O'Donnell, a military historian: "He pondered for a few minutes and then told the staff, 'Well, I don't know what to tell them.' He then asked the staff what they thought, and I spoke up, saying, 'That first remark of yours would be hard to beat.' "

The 101st held out, and four days later an American column broke through the German lines, lifting the siege.

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