Unsung Hero:
Lakewood Resident Mike Looney Honors Father With New Book

“Hofen, Germany. My brightest star. I helped save the day.” These words were among many discovered by Mike in his childhood room after his father’s death in well-preserved journal entries, notes, letters and pictures that had been hidden away for six decades.

Among them was a copy of the history of the 196th, and printed on the inside read, “Lt. George W. Looney, Reconnaissance Officer and Forward Officer. Discharged at Rank of Captain.” In Lt. Looney’s handwriting was this:

“First night hell – several nights of torment in Höfen … my brightest star by me. I helped save the day. Lt. Starter (name has been changed) first night cracked up. Lt. George Looney – 2nd night, Peiper was ordered to run over us. He did not…I helped stop the Germans there on their second night trying to run over us. We had too much artillery. They could not get over us. Had done so, it would have opened up all Elsinborn Ridge to Germans and possible disaster for all. Fact by historians.”

As an artillery observer, Lt. Looney was responsible for directing artillery fire from the highest point while he observed battle. Lt. Looney’s orchestrated direction ultimately helped turn back German soldiers and get them off of Höfen.

“At times, American artillery rounds would land within a few feet of our positions, decimating the attacking enemy, but not touching us … George Looney was the forward observer directing these guns and assigning targets up and down our lines. He played it like a concert organist. I am here today because of his expertise … Men like him won World War II.” – Thor Ronningen, an infantryman at the battle of Höfen.

Mike recalls immediately knowing the magnitude of his dad’s accomplishment. Mike believes these comments were recorded later in Lt. Looney’s life after he revisited the battle site in 1990 and realized the significance of the battle. Mike believes that his dad never spoke of the battle because he didn’t want to discredit another officer, and he knew that his family wouldn’t have understood the battle’s significance.

“We wouldn’t have given the response it deserved because we were virgins to combat,” Mike said. “We couldn’t give it the respect it deserved.”

In addition to being a hero that helped win the war, Lt. Looney was awarded one bronze star, two oak leaf clusters (all with a ‘V’ for valor) and five bronze service stars, meaning he served in five major campaigns including Normandy, Hurtgen and Ardennes. According to Mike, in the battle of Hurtgen, the odds of surviving were almost non-existent. Lt. Looney not only survived, but rescued 10 other men along with him.

Page 3 of this article | Back to News | Next Article