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Patton's Last Battle - Valiant in Death as in Life

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Patton's Last Battle - Valiant in Death as in Life

It was to be a routine hunting trip like hundreds he had gone on before, but General George S. Patton Jr. had his final date with destiny as he set out for that trip on December 9, 1945.

After a stop to look at German ruins, Patton and his driver were on the outskirts of Manheim when a two-and-a-half-ton truck turned in front of their car. Patton was thrown violently forward, then back, breaking his neck and wounding his scalp.

Conscious, but paralyzed and having trouble breathing, Patton asked whether his fellow travelers were okay. After being transferred to the 130th U.S. Army Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Patton quipped, "Jesus Christ, what a way to start a leave."

Beatrice came to join him in his final days and was described by Patton's doctor as having a personality that "radiates like a rare gem." Her devotion to her beloved husband was noticed by all and her courage and grace were a source of comfort for family, friends and well wishers.

While the prognosis was poor, doctors used every means possible to keep Patton alive. At one point, sharp hooks were affixed to his cheekbones. The device was counterbalanced by a ten-pound weight designed to pull his head and backbone and relieve pressure on the spine. He endured injections and transfusions, a major disappointment for a man who had hoped to die in battle.

Patton often said, "The proper end for a professional solder is a quick death inflicted by the last bullet of the last battle."

It was in the quiet after the battle, the battle won, the German armies vanquished, that Patton was called to death. He died in his sleep on December 21, having never regained use of his limbs. The official cause of death was pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure.

On that same day, before receiving the news of his death, both of his daughters had premonitions of his death. Ruth Ellen awoke from a dream to find the figure of her father in full uniform sitting in front of the bay window. He looked at her and smiled a smile of love and reassurance and was gone.

When she called Little Bea the next morning, Bea had a story of her own to tell. She had been awakened by a phone call in the middle of the

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