During a recent dining event, World War II veteran Lockered “Bud” Gahs talked about his time as part of the esteemed 42nd Infantry Division, famously known as the “Rainbow Division,” and shared his combat stories with the current generation of Soldiers serving the division’s headquarters.

The exchange, co-hosted by the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation, was attended by 300 men from the New York Army National Guard, where Gahs connected and, in a way, appeared to “pass on the legacy” of the venerable division to its newest Soldiers.

Bud Gahs is a Maryland native who served as a private in the division’s 222nd Infantry Regiment after getting drafted into service in 1943. He initially served as a truck driver in the anti-tank company of the 222nd Infantry before he was sent to France in 1944, along with the rest of the 42nd Rainbow men, to face the German counteroffensive near Strausburg. The offensive was known as Operation Nordwind, which took place in conjunction with the Battle of the Bulge further north in the Ardennes.

The WWII veteran shared with the audience how his unit defended their post in the town of Schweghausen. On January 25, 1945, he and his unit stayed on high alert for hours to fend off German attacks, with Gahs relying on his trustee M3 submachine gun.

“We lost two Soldiers from our squad that day,” Gahs recalled. “As soon as (the Germans) left, we were grateful they didn’t set the house on fire while we were still hiding out on the second floor.”

The US Army awarded Gahs a Bronze Star for his valiant efforts in defending his post that day. Three months later, he found himself among the men advancing through the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp in Southern Germany that imprisoned over 200,000 consisted of Jews, Romani, Adolf Hitler’s political opponents, homosexual people, and others.

On the Dachau’s liberation date in April 1945, the WWII veteran recounted being temporarily assigned to secure the woods near the camp with expectations to find SS prison guards. Instead, he found a man crawling toward him. They were all ready to shoot the man when it soon dawned on them that he was, in fact, an escaped prisoner.

“Dachau was a surprise to all of us,” Gahs said. “We didn’t know it was that bad.”