January 13, 2009, - 2:44 pm

“Nuts. Signed The American Commander”: Lt. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard, RIP

By Debbie Schlussel
A great American hero–whose memorable words to the Nazis obscured his post-WWII contributions–has died. Lt. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard knew how to deal with the 1940 Nazis, and I’m sure he’d know how to deal with the 2008 Nazis (the “Religion of Peace”). Sad to see him go. His life was full of so many great stories, like this one:

Lt. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard II, who died Jan. 5 at his home in Arlington County, was a West Point graduate whose decades-long military career stretched from World War II to Vietnam, but he was most often associated with one word that became instant legend. The word was “nuts,” the reply to a German surrender ultimatum during the crucial Battle of the Bulge.


Lt. Gen. Harry Kinnard (Right), Great American, RIP

Gen. Kinnard, 93, died of complications of Parkinson’s disease.
In 1944, then-Col. Kinnard was a 29-year-old assistant chief of staff to Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagle” Division. When the German army launched a last-ditch attack in the Ardennes Forest on Dec. 16, the 101st was rushed into the Belgian town of Bastogne to defend the intersection of five strategic roads. Two days later, the division, outnumbered by more than 4 to 1, found itself surrounded by German tanks and infantry. The Americans were unprepared for fighting in the bitter cold and were pounded relentlessly by artillery. Their situation seemed hopeless.
On Dec. 22, the Germans sent two officers and two noncommissioned officers into Bastogne with a white flag and Lt. Gen. Heinrich von Luttwitz’s typewritten demand that U.S. forces surrender, the “one possibility” of saving American troops from “total annihilation.”
McAuliffe’s instinctive response was to laugh and exclaim, “Us surrender? Aw, nuts!” He told his staff that he wasn’t sure how to respond officially and asked for suggestions.
“That first remark of yours would be hard to beat,” Col. Kinnard told him, and other staff members enthusiastically agreed. McAuliffe then called in a typist and dictated: “To the German Commander: Nuts!” and signed it, “The American Commander.”

The American soldiers who escorted the German emissaries back to their lines had to explain that “Nuts!” was the equivalent of “Go to hell.”
In the early morning of Christmas Day, the 101st Division repulsed a German assault. The siege of Bastogne ended when U.S. forces attacking from the south joined the 101st.
Harry William Osborn Kinnard II was born in Dallas and was raised in an Army family. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1939 and was a member of the Hawaiian Division when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. As a platoon leader in the 27th Infantry “Wolfhound” Regiment, he commanded a machine gun nest on Waikiki Beach in anticipation of a Japanese land assault.
He parachuted into Normandy overnight on June 5-6, 1944, and took command of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was battalion commander during the airborne invasion of Holland later in the year.

But that wasn’t the only remarkable set of achievements in this man’s amazing life:

His awards include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal and the Silver Star.


Kinnard, a career soldier who in later years was the principal architect of the Army’s concept of using helicopters in infantry warfare in Vietnam, died in Arlington, Va., his family told The New York Times.
A native of Dallas, Kinnard graduated from West Point in 1939 and spent 30 years in uniform, retiring in 1969.
He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the newly organized 101st Airborne Division and was decorated for heroism during its drive against German forces in the Netherlands.

Men like this made America great. We need more of them.
Lt. Gen. Harry W.O. Kinnard, Rest In Peace.

14 Responses

Bravery and success today are measured by how much you can concede to your enemies.
The more you bow and treat them nicely, the more medals of honor you’ll get.
That’s why all those who “tortured” the Muslim terrorists will not get any Virgins.
Honor, valor, country and God are words of the past.
Sissiness, cowardice, political correctness and treason are highly praised and rewarded nowadays.
The new U.S. political and military motto is:
“Love your enemies, even if they put a shaft up your butt.”

Independent Conservative on January 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm

I would have said “f*ck you.” No – its not diplomatic but I think its an appropriate response to those you are evil. I don’t swear. But every now and then there’s that exception to the rule. The last thing we ought to be is courteous to the bad guys.

NormanF on January 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Gotta love military sarcasm. RIP

mindy1 on January 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The full note from Luttwitz said:
To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.
The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.
There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.
If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.
All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.
The German Commander.
Notice the point about civilian casualties and the implication that these would be the fault of the American commander should he refuse to surrender.

photoncourier.blogspot.com on January 13, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Extremely! minor point, but to us military guys, it means something. Kinnard was, in fact, a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) at Bastogne in 1944. In the photo he is wearing the silver oak leaf of that rank. Also, is the fact that he was an “assistant” chief of staff. Those are LTC slots, not Colonel slots. I realize you got it from the obituary, but they are wrong, as well. As an aside, Brigadier General McAuliffe was actually the 101st Airborne Division artillery commander, and was the ‘acting’ division commander at the time of the incident. The actual division commander position calls for a Major General (2 stars). Nonetheless, yes, Kinnard was a great patriot and well deserved his 3 stars. Thanks for all you do, Debbie!

j5050 on January 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I join you in Mourning Gen Kinnards death!
We NEED some Gen. Kinnards NOW, at Home & Abroad.

CHOI on January 13, 2009 at 9:22 pm

My Grandfather fought in this battle and he was shot on December 17, 1944 in Luxemburg. He survived but came home severely injured
May Gen. Kinnard rest in peace

Holly on January 13, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Nice piece. Hate to see what KING HUSSEIN COBRAMA will impose on our military. Bill Clinton Redux.

californiascreaming on January 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Why don’t the Nazi chasers ever go after the masterminds behind the SS? The SS were patterned after the Jesuits, right down to their spiritual training exercises. it’s time the beloved racial Jews of Jehovah understand who their real enemy is at the top of the pyramid and who really controls the crazy Arabs through freemasonry.

John the Baptist on January 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

It is easy to make a hero of this man. But you must remember that his refusal to negotiate and continue fighting is DIRECTLY responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent French citizens of Bastogne: women and children and BABIES. YES little French BABIES, cute cuddly little babies that and toddling toddlers crying “Maman! Maman! Ou est maman! Aieee! maman est mort!” (pardon my high school French) just so this arrogant man can go in the history books. If only we had Vichy photographers in Bastogne to awaken the world’s conscience….

poetcomic1 on January 14, 2009 at 11:31 am

The above comment by poetcomic1 is completely idiotic. First of all, it was McAuliffe that had the responsibility to decide to continue, not Kinnard. Secondly, you seem to conveniently forget the Germans started the damn war, thus putting “little cuddly babies” in the line of fire, to begin with. If it hadn’t been for the GERMANS wanting to take over all of Europe before continuing their quest for the rest of the world, none of this would have happened at all. Boy, talk about being sophomoric! Thirdly, what the hell have you ever done for your country? Vichy photographers?? Yeah, that would be the ones that sold out their country, too…

j5050 on January 14, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I was being sarcastic. Duh!

    poetcomic1 on March 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm

And another thing…. Not only did Kinnard earn the Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery, he also earned the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action. It is second only to the Medal of Honor. But, it is quite obvious that poetcomic1 would not know anything about honor. Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it….

j5050 on January 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm

j5050 – I was joking. Can you imagine if they had tried to fight WWII with today’s ‘media’ breathing down their necks?

poetcomic1 on January 14, 2009 at 8:28 pm

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