Many Aggies are proud of Texas A&M’s significant contributions to the United States Armed Forces, but we can sometimes lose sight of the individuals behind them. J. Wayne Stark Gallery’s newest exhibit, “From Texas to Bastogne: Texas Aggies Go To War,” in the Texas A&M Memorial Student Center, personalizes these contributions by focusing on the stories of five Aggies who served their country during World War II.
Today through December 16, 2017, From Bastogne to Texas, a non-profit organization, plans to use this exhibit to advocate for Texas A&M’s core values of leadership, excellence and selfless service. The goal of this exhibit is to educate guests on the life stories of real people whose actions have embodied the Aggie core values.
The Bastogne War Museum, in Bastogne, Belgium, opened the exhibit “Texas Aggies Go To War,” in 2014, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. The Belgian exhibit tells the story of the same five former Texas A&M University students, and their part in this crucial battle, to a European audience.
A preview of the exhibit came to College Station in 2016, and HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium personally honored one of the Aggies highlighted in the exhibit.
“Texas Aggies Go To War,” the full exhibit now on display, describes the core values that the five former students, James Hollingsworth ‘40, Turney Leonard ‘42, Willie Peña ‘42, Joe Routt ’37 and Earl Rudder ’32, resembled as Aggies and US Citizens who served in the war.
Bastogne was a small town that played a significant role in the infamous Battle of the Bulge. In the winter of 1944, Germany mobilized a blitzkrieg attack meant to split the Allied armies in the northwestern region of Europe. It was a successful trap that caught the Allied armies off-guard, and American units fought in numerous treacherous battles at St.-Vinth, Elsenborn Ridge, Houffalize and Bastogne.
Through the rolling valleys of Ardennes, the Germans attempted to secure a strong position inside of military territory. However, the Allied forces took on the appearance of a large “bulge” in soldiers, giving the battle its name.
Texas A&M sent more soldiers and officers to fight in the Battle of the Bulge than any other school in the country. The exhibit honors the service of over 76,000 US soldiers killed, wounded or missing in action in World War II, many of whom were former Aggie students.
The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit will be open until the end of December 16, 2017. J. Wayne Stark Galleries is located on the first floor of the Memorial Student Center, and admission to the galleries is always free. Parking is available right across the street from the MSC in the University Center Garage.