NAZARETH, Pa. - Seventy-five years ago Monday, the Battle of the Bulge began.
It was a last-ditch effort by the Nazis to turn the tide of World War II, and would become one of the most important and deadliest battles in the war.
WFMZ's Sara Madonna sat down with a local hero who fought in the battle and shared his story.
At dawn on December 16th, 1944, 200,000 German soldiers launched a surprise attack at the Belgian-German border. One of the brave men on that front was Nazareth native, 96-year-old Raymond Christman. He was 21 years old.
"We tried to stop them and we did, we slowed them down for two to three days so they couldn't go ahead with the bulge," Christman said.
The battle lasted for 41 days. About 19,000 American soldiers were killed. About 15,000 were taken prisoner, including Christman.
"My parents didn't know I was prisoner of war, they thought that I was dead," Christman said.
For months, Christman was held captive by German forces, forced to walk 10 miles a day and sleep often in freezing cold barns. He practically starved.
"I grabbed dandelions and ate dandelions... it was the only thing you had to eat," Christman said.
He was eventually saved by Russian forces and weighed only 70 pounds. He was sent to France to put on weight before finally going home to the United States.
"Get back to the United States and first thing I saw, first thing I saw was the American flag and I cried, I was so happy to get back to the United States," Christman said.
Christman got married and had two children. It would take years before he could share what had happened, thanks to his daughter.
"She grew up and she got to be in high school and she pushed everything out of me," Christman said.
He is now passing down his war medals and his army picture to his great-grandson, so one day he knows his great-grandfather helped end World War II.