The battle was the last major offensive on the Western Front and the largest and bloodiest fought by American forces in WWII. Alexandria resident J. David Bailey, at the time a corporal in the U.S. Army, survived the battle and on April 5, 2022 he was honored in Market Square in celebration of his 100th birthday.
“It is one of the most singular experiences that has protected our world from tyranny and this gentleman right here was part of that.
Mayor Justin Wilson in honoring Battle of the Bulge survivor J. David Bailey
Congressman Don Beyer and Mayor Justin Wilson were among the dignitaries on hand to pay tribute to Bailey, who is the last known living survivor of the Battle of the Bulge.
“The Battle of the Bulge was one of the largest, most deadly battles our nation has even been involved with,” Wilson said. “It is one of the most singular experiences that has protected our world from tyranny and this gentleman right here was part of that. He took up arms and defended our freedom a generation ago and I thank him for his incredible commitment to our nation.”
Wilson presented Bailey with a key to the city while a representative from Sen. Mark Warner’s office presented him with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Beyer’s father-in-law, Dr. Frank Carrol, was also a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and wounded Jan. 25, 1945, the final day of the campaign.
“This was perhaps the most important battle of the war,” Beyer said. “As the world once again sees tyranny in Europe's backyard, we are reminded and thankful for the patriotism, the heroism, the endurance of Mr. Bailey and his fellow G.I.’s who triumphed and brought us all freedom.”
Bailey, an active member of Washington Street Methodist Church, was born Jan. 3, 1922, in Bluefield, W. Va., and joined the army in 1942. When he took to the podium, he focused his remarks on his fellow soldiers.
“Make no mistake about it, this is not only to honor me,” Bailey said, “this is about the 16 million Americans who for over a period of three-and-a-half years served their country at their very best.”
Bailey was part of the 422nd regiment of the 106th Infantry Division. He is the recipient of the French Legion of Honour medal, Combat Infantry Badge, two Bronze Stars, four Battle Stars and four Service ribbons. He was honorably discharged Nov. 24, 1945.
“Tom Brokaw was right when he declared that we were the Greatest Generation as we saved the world from becoming a fascist state,” Bailey said in closing. “Thank you for acknowledging not just me but for the others of the Greatest Generation, of which I am proud to be a member.”