Few American generals can boast a more eloquent quote than General Anthony McAuliffe said to the Germans who had surrounded his troops in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.  

McAuliffe was born in Washington, D.C. on, July 2, 1898. He attended West Virginia University and then transferred to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in an accelerated program, graduating just after World War I ended. He was commissioned as an Artillery Officer and spent the years between the wars in various peacetime assignments. Gaining ranks was slow then, in the downsized U.S. Army, and by 1935 he was just a captain. 

He was selected to attend the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Then, in June 1940, McAuliffe graduated from the United States Army War College. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1941 just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Early in the war McAuliffe was assigned to the Pentagon and was dealing with logistics. But he volunteered for airborne duty and joined the 101st Airborne Division. Airborne warfare was a new development and the United States initially fielded two divisions in Europe, the 101st and the 82nd Airborne Divisions. Both would play key roles in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).