Vincent P. Spikula (1944/12/16)

A "Battle Baby" from Watsonville became the county's first death in the Battle of the Bulge.

Vincent Peter Spikula was born in Watsonville, California, on March 4, 1925, to Mr. and Mrs. Martin V. Spikula. The Spikula family also included daughters Mary and Ann. He attended Pajaro Valley elementary schools and enrolled in Watsonville High School in 1939. Vincent graduated from Watsonville High School with the June class of 1943.

Spikula enlisted in the US Army on July 16, 1943, and was sent to Camp Fanning, Texas, for his basic training. He received his advanced infantry training at Camp Maxey, Texas, before being assigned overseas.

In November 1944, Private Spikula joined the 395th Regiment of the 99th Infantry Division that was advancing on the retreating German army.

The inexperienced men of the 99th, dubbed "Battle Babies" by UP War Correspondent John McDermott, were about to receive their baptism by fire in the famous Battle of the Bulge.

On December 16, 1944, "all hell broke loose" on the Belgium-German border when the retreating Germans suddenly turned and counter-attacked. Spikula's battalion has not been identified, but the following 3rd Battalion description of the action is similar to that which he may have experienced.

“During the German offensive in the Ardennes, the Third Battalion, 395th Infantry, was assigned the mission of holding the Monschau-Eupin-Liege Road. For four successive days the battalion held this sector against combined German tank and infantry attacks, launched with fanatical determination and supported by heavy artillery. No reserves were available... and the situation was desperate. On at least six different occasions the battalion was forced to place artillery concentrations dangerously close to its own positions in order to repulse penetrations and restore its lines...The enemy artillery was so intense that communications were generally out. The men carried out missions without orders when their positions were penetrated or infiltrated. They killed Germans coming at them from the front, flanks and rear. Outnumbered five to one, they inflicted casualties in the ratio of eighteen to one. With ammunition supplies dwindling rapidly, the men obtained German weapons and utilized ammunition obtained from casualties to drive off the persistent foe. Despite fatigue, constant enemy shelling, and ever-increasing enemy pressure, the Third Battalion guarded a 6000-yard front and destroyed 75 percent of three German infantry regiments.”

Private First Class Vincent Peter Spikula was killed in action on December 16, 1944, during the Ardennes offen- sive. His remains were initially buried in Belgium but were later returned to Watsonville and reinterred in the family vault at Valley Catholic Cemetery.

(CBR; NARA2; Battle Babies, The Story of the 99th Infantry Division, http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/99thinfantry/index.html, [16 September 2008]; WRP January 5, 1945 1:2, January 26, 1945 1:2; Photo-WHS)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1940s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art and History.
Identifier: RO-SPIKULA

Citation

Nelson, Robert L. “Vincent P. Spikula (1944/12/16).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4519. Accessed 19 May 2022.