Colonel Warren Schilling Remembers the Battlefield
FORT MYERS – Many of the residents at Shell Point share a common experience – they have served in one of the branches of America’s armed forces. In recognition of Memorial Day, read this resident’s account of his time during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
|A young Warren Schilling on the front lines.|
Shell Point resident Warren Schilling was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Having scraped together enough cash to go to college, he attended the University of Florida for about a year before he was drafted into the Army in 1943. Because of his education and performance on intelligence tests, he was sent to a special program at Baylor University in Texas, training to become an engineer. But those plans were drastically changed when the program was canceled and Warren was sent to join the 99th Infantry Division during World War II.
“It was a noble thing to talk about, going into combat,” said Warren, “but no one was exactly volunteering to go to the front lines. But as it turns out, that’s exactly where I ended up.”
His division arrived in England and then was moved through France and Belgium into the Ardennes Forest. In November 1944, his combat patrol came under ambush after his platoon sergeant stepped on a landmine. “The bark started flying off the trees,” he said, “and all we heard was machine gun fire.” They were ordered to withdraw. “Three of my buddies were killed,” he remembers. “One of my friends was flat on the ground; he had been shot right through the face. I crawled with him and then helped him walk out of there to the medics. By the middle of January, he was back with us on the front lines.”
At the Battle of the Bulge – by which time Warren was a sergeant – much of the 99th was overrun by German forces. They had to survive in the harsh winter with whatever food and supplies were brought to them. Warren battled with pneumonia and nearly lost some toes from frostbite. “Some of our replacements were so quickly trained in the States, they didn’t even know how to load an M1 rifle when they joined us,” recalls Warren. “But many of them turned out to be great guys.”
|In 1972, Col. Warren Schilling (right) served as one of the personal aides to 5-star General Omar Bradley (left).|
By that time the tide had largely turned in the Allies’ favor. Warren ended up crossing the Danube with Patton’s army, and received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant just as the war ended.
After returning to the States, Warren attended the University of Miami on the GI Bill, staying in the Infantry Reserve and eventually joining the Corps of Engineers. “Then when Korea started, the infantry reserve unit to which I was assigned stayed home, while the engineer reserve unit was called up!” He built airfields and other facilities during the Korean conflict, then switched from the Reserve to the regular Army for the rest of his career, even serving in Vietnam. Warren ended up as a colonel and in later years, was chosen to be an aide to five-star general Omar Bradley. “I think he chose me because I had originally served with him in combat during World War II,” says Warren.
|Col. Warren Schilling does his part to celebrate the great patriotism of Shell Point residents.|
Warren moved to Shell Point in 1986. He still keeps in touch with many of his buddies from the company, and with the abundance of veterans at Shell Point, there’s no end to the war stories that are shared. “One of my friends here at Shell Point, Burt Biddulph, was a chaplain at that time. I found out later that I passed right by him when we crossed the Remagen Bridge.”
Col. Schilling is just one of the many brave men and women who served our country as part of America’s “greatest generation.”