Niagara Gazette — A Lockport native’s World War II exploits are featured in “Those Damned Engineers,” an episode of the six-part series “Against the Odds” that’s being shown at 10 tonight on the American Heroes Channel.
Charles Hensel, a lifelong resident of Gasport and Lockport, was the subject of a day-long interview for the episode, filmed several months before his death in August 2013, according to his daughter and son-in-law, Sharon and Robert Steimer.
Hensel was a staff sergeant in the Army’s 291st Combat Engineers, which played a critical role in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. To stop the Germans from invading Antwerp, Belgium, a crucial Allied supply port, the combat engineers blew up bridge after bridge along the path.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the 291st Combat Engineers was a small and poorly armed unit that went up against a 4,500-man SS Division and prevailed. The Americans were caught by surprise when the German march started and the 291st’s efforts slowed the Germans long enough for the Americans to catch up, according to Robert Steimer.
After the war, Hensel went to work as a tool and die maker at Norton Laboratories. He was a member of Gasport Masonic Lodge and a life member of Gasport Chemical Hose Fire Co. and Gasport-based American Legion Post 1253.
Hensel was one of four surviving members of the 291st who were interviewed for “Those Damned Engineers” last year by the 43 Films company.
The Steimers were notified last week about the episode’s air date. Tonight’s broadcast will be their first time seeing it, Robert said.
The American Heroes Channel is formerly known as the Military Channel.