Memorial Day

CIA Budapest

CIA Fact Book: Some of the statues at Heroes’ Square in Budapest.


In Oct of 1957 Russian Troops invaded Hungary. Russia’s occupation of that country since WW II had begun to fail. The citizens of Hungary were rebelling and Stalin did what he did best; he kicked ass.

Three months later* as a gunner for the 287th Field artillery, I and several hundred other  young soldiers in my battalion, joined the 101st Airborne and the First Cavalry Divisions and we moved to the southern border of Hungary. We were not  told why we were there but we could hear artillery, rattling tank treads and machine gun fire from a nearby town. We bivouacked and did what we could to make ourselves comfortable but there was no sleep because whoever was fighting did so throughout the night. Occasionally we would hear a child crying.

As I lay freezing in the subzero temperatures wrapped in many layers of clothing I thought about friends and family who had died in Korea; I remembered pictures of my father the ambulance driver in WW I; he had volunteered as a medic following as closely as he could in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Bill Broom. Dixie Broom was fourteen years of age when he enlisted. As an unarmed driver of a four mule team ambulance making several trips a day to the front lines, he must have been afraid. Courage of course, comes only to the fearful. I was afraid but memories of the photos of my Father Dixie gave me strength.

The next morning as we stood shivering in the chow line with our mess kits rattling and our stomachs grumbling, the fire fight stopped. We had breakfast and went home.

Two months later I was touring with the Second Division in a traveling variety show called “SWonderful MC’d by Gary Crosby. Not much of a war story but it is my war story and that night on the Hungarian Border is one which will be with me always.

*To the best of my memory.

Lee Broom,


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