MOUNT JOY, Pa. (WHTM) – It was the final salute to a hero. Befitting his larger than life legacy, beloved WWII veteran Harold Billow received a patriotic farewell….

Billow, a Midstate native and the last known survivor of the Malmedy Massacre in World War Two, died this week at the age of 99.

A police-escorted motorcade carried his remains through Mount Joy, where he spent much of his adult life and where he touched many lives. 

“He was a real American. He really loved his country. He loved his service. He just loved everything. There was nothing bad about Harold,” said Leo Shank, a resident of Mount Joy.

Billow, a native of Millersburg, was honored by President Donald Trump two years ago for his service during World War Two.

“I’ve gotten so much attention over the years it’s unbelievable,” Billow told abc27 at the time.

December 17, 1944, is a day Billow says he will never forget. His 285th field artillery observation battalion was ambushed by Germans, armed with tanks.

Billow, just 21 at the time, was riding in a vehicle near the end of the American convoy, headed toward Malmedy. He was in charge of setting up instruments that could pick up flashes and sounds from enemy guns.

But at a crossroads, Billow said a German panzer division found them.

“The Germans searched us, marched us up the road. They put all these guys in the field, there’s about 150 of us, in the field standing there with [our] hands up. And this German officer come up in a command car, he stood up…he shot one guy on the right side of me, and then he shot another guy on the left side of me. Then they opened up point blank spraying the field back and forth, trying to kill everybody. When the machine guns all stopped then the Germans walked through the field, and anybody that showed signs of life, they would point blank shoot them in the head, to finish them off. I went face down, flat down in the snow – cold, stayed there the rest of the day hoping I’d make it to get back to tell people what happened.”

Eighty-four American soldiers were murdered in what would later be ruled a war crime. It was also considered Hitler’s last major offensive on the Western Front.

Billow was able to run away after lying in the freezing snow for hours; he was one of only a handful from the Massacre to eventually make it home alive.

Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons tweeted Billow “was an American hero and Lancaster County legend.”

According to the National WWorld War II Museum, in 2021 there were about 240,000 World War II veterans still alive in the United States. Pennsylvania is home to more than 13,000 World War II veterans.

A public viewing for Harold will be held at Sheetz Funeral Home on May 24 at 16 East Main Street in Mount Joy from 5-8 p.m. His funeral service will be at Florin Church of the Brethren on May 25 at 11 a.m. with a public viewing starting at 10 a.m.

Harold’s interment will be at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery at 9:30 a.m. with a procession beginning at 8 a.m. The procession will begin at the Mount Joy Swimming Pool on Fairview Street and will continue east on Main Street from Orchard Ave. to Barbara Street.

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A ladder truck honor crossing will be provided by members of the Fire Department Mount Joy and Elizabethtown Fire Department at Weis Markets at 8:05 a.m.