Lt Mike Reuter in somewhere in Southern France
NAME: Edward R. (Mike) Reuter
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tacoma, WA
DATE OF BIRTH: 09 Jun 1922
DATES OF SERVICE: 17 Sep 42 - 25 Dec 45 and 00 Jun 51 - 00 May 53
77th Inf Trng Bn, Camp Roberts, CA
Infantry School. Fort Benning, GA
HQ A/B Training Center, Parachute School, Fort Benning, GA
ABTC, North Africa
G CO 2nd Bn 509th PIR
A Co, 509th PIB Asst. Plt Ldr
3rd Plt B Co 509 PIB Plt Ldr
505th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division
507th PIR, 17th Airborne Division
CAMPAIGNS: Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe
AWARDS: Parachutist Badge with one combat jump star, Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, European, African, Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal with arrowhead and six bronze star devices, American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Distinguished (Presidential) Unit Citation with one oak leaf cluster, French Legion of Honor
SUMMARY OF SERVICE:
"I attended grade school in Tacoma, WA. I took my ROTC training at Hill Military Academy, a boarding school in Portland OR. They had a 4 year ROTC program that led to a commission when the candidate turned 21. When WW II broke out, they lowered the age to 18. I was 20 when commissioned. After our senior year we attended ROTC Summer Camp for 6 weeks with the college seniors. I did this duty at Fort Vancouver, WA. This was in the Summer of 1940. I think we measured up well compared to the college cadets. I also participated in Football, wrestling and track. After graduating from Hill in 1940, I worked as a welder in the shipyards in Tacoma building Liberty ships and living at home."
00 Sep 1941 - "The next year I enrolled at Washington State College, majoring in physical education. The war broke out while I was at college and I applied for my commission in June 1942."
17 Sep 1942 - Date of entry to Active Duty
00 Sep 1942 - 77th Inf Trng Bn, Camp Roberts, CA
"I was commissioned 2nd Lt from the ROTC program in Sept 1942 and reported to Camp Roberts, CA where I was assigned to the 77th Infantry Training Battalion as a platoon leader. We trained men in a 13 week basic training course. which included a lot of close order drill and time on the rifle range with the M-1 rifle. Many of these men were in their 30's and too old for infantry combat. One of my toughest assignments was giving a two hour lecture to 500 men in the post theater on the current war situation in North Africa. I had never been in a situation like this before and was quite nervous about it. But you do what you have to do. It was a good experience. The battalion executive officer invited several of us new 2nd Lts to a poker game. My father had warned me not to play poker in the army. How right he was, this was the only time I played poker."
"In Jan 1943, I received orders to attend the Basic Infantry Course at Fort Benning. I traveled by train from Camp Roberts to Columbus, GA."
00 Feb 1943 - 2nd Lt at Infantry School, Ft Benning, GA
"In Feb '43 I arrived at Fort Benning, GA to attend the Officers Basic Infantry Class, a 13 week course. We were very close to the Parachute towers and I became interested in the Airborne at that time. One of my close classmates challenged me to sign up with the parachute school. I signed up; he didn't show! The extra 100 a month extra pay was also an attraction which almost doubled my $125 2nd Lt. pay. And then there was this 'dear John' letter."
"While attending the Basic Officer's class at Fort Benning, I received a "Dear John" letter from my girl friend telling me that she was engaged to someone else. This wasn't the end of the world, but I did feel somewhat depressed for awhile. She wanted to get married, I didn't. I did not want to return from the war in a disabled state and wish that on a wife. Many of my friends married when they entered the service. There were many girls around Fort Benning who wanted to be the beneficiary of the $10,000 service death insurance. I dated a girl in Columbus, GA and three days later she was married to a friend of mine. Parachute Infantry officers were great prospects. A very good friend of mine married a girl from a little town close by. We all laughed when he described the wedding. It was held at her home; her Mother cried during the ceremony and her father sat on the front porch, reading the newspaper."
00 May 1943 - 2nd Lt at HQ A/B Training Center, Parachute School Ft Benning
"Reason, I entered the airborne was the feeling that I would be fighting along side better soldiers. They were all volunteers and more dependable than the average draftee. I never had a man in my platoon refuse an order."
"The Parachute School was a four week course and went smoothly, but it was very hot in May and June. First week all physical training, lots of running and push ups. 2nd week mock door practice and learning how to fall, 3rd week parachuting from the 250 foot towers and parachute packing. 4th week 5 jumps from a C-47. Following jump school we were assigned to the Parachute School Pool, where we trained on weapons and tactics including a night jump and tactical exercise marching back to our base. Following jump school we received our jump pay; an extra $100 a month for officers. This almost doubled my 2Lt pay of $125 so I bought a car with my extra earnings, a 1937 Ford Sedan for $300. I was now able to drive to town and to Atlanta every weekend to party. In August I was granted an 11 day leave which I spent in Atlanta and also spent all of my money"
03 Sep 1943 - Departed the US for North Africa
"Near the end of August we were told we were going overseas. In September the entire Parachute School Pool was ordered overseas, about 700 enlisted men and 67 officers. We left Fort Benning by train to Newport News, VA and boarded a Liberty ship with a cargo of gliders. We didn't know our destination; we were part of a 50 ship convoy and arrived in Oran, North Africa in about 17 days. The food was not good; dehydrated eggs and potatoes twice a day. The fan tail at the stern was an officer's area. We had a wind-up victrola record player with one 78 rpm record - The Ink Spots singing "Paper Doll". We washed our clothes by tying ropes on them and dragging them in the salt water. I had worked as a welder in the Seattle-Tacoma Shipyard in 1940-41 building Liberty Ships so I wandered around the ship looking at the welding. There were no German attacks on the convoy but we did have several alerts. The weather was good."
29 Sep 1943 - Arrived at Airborne Training Center (ABTC), North Africa
"Once in Oran they loaded us in a truck convoy and traveled to Oujda, French Morocco a little village about 100 miles SW of Oran. There was a British airfield here and a training camp called the American Airborne Training Center. This was in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains; cold and night - hot in the day time. We lived in tents. We organized a training schedule and all the troops rotated through weapons and tactical training. I volunteered to run the 60mm mortar school. We also made a night jump 40 miles away and then a forced march back to camp."
"One Sunday I was walking down the camp street, a private a walking toward me saluted me and then said "Mike Reuter". It was Frank Belfoy, one of my neighborhood buddies from Tacoma. We could not openly socialize, but several evenings a week after duty hours I took a bottle of wine and we met up in the hills and talked of old times. One night he asked me if I had received mail from home. I said no. He told me then that my father had died. This was quite a jolt to me although I knew my father was in ill health."
"I had one unusual experience with the mortar school. During a live firing exercise, I was stationed at the observation post with several of my assistant instructors observing the target. I looked over my shoulder and saw a mortar round heading right into our post. I yelled, "hit the ground". The round was a dud; the assistant gunner had failed to pull the firing pin before he put it in the barrel. Years later (Chicago 509 reunion, 1970) my former assistant Sgt Garrity and I discussed this over a beer and laughed until the tears rolled."
"In early December, about three-fourths of our group was sent to Italy to join the 504. My friend Frank Belfoy was in this group. We did have an officer's club; a metal roof hut, our basic drink was red wine. We saw in the 1944 New Year here and then received orders to join combat units in Italy."
"On or about 02 Jan 1944 we boarded a British transport ship in Oran and sailed for Naples. They had a small store on the ship where they sold various items but their exchange rate with American money was atrocious; $5.00 to a British pound. We turned this around with American cigarettes, which cost us 50 cents for a carton plus the free ones we received in our rations. I did not smoke so I could barter with mine. I traded a British sailor a couple of packs of cigarettes for a large woolen scarf (about 5 feet long and 1 foot wide) I wrapped this around my body, under my field jacket at Anzio and Belgium, which added greatly to my comfort. I also traded for a British seaman's knife."
"When we arrived at the dock in Naples we were next to a ship unloading Gurkha troops from Nepal; they had their families and sheep with them. We loaded into trucks and were driven to a school building in the suburbs of Naples where the 509 was billeted. All the replacements, including the officers were assigned to tents until they were assigned to specific units. I remember it was raining."
"We knew there was a mission coming up. Most of our group would be used as replacements later as the future battle would progress. My good friend, Lt Herb Rose and I went to the Personnel Officer and said "we want to go on this mission". We were both assigned as assistant platoon leaders; Herb to C Company and myself to A Company."
11 Jan 1944 - 2nd Lt. Edward R. Reuter O-493461 HQ A/B Training Center SO 4 Assigned to G CO 2nd Bn 509th PIR
00 Jan 1944 - 2nd Lt. A Co, 509th PIB Asst. Plt Ldr
"The 509 conducted training in the mornings and then allowed the troops liberty into Naples in the afternoon and evenings. Herb Rose and I visited Pompeii and also used a German motor boat to visit the Isle of Capri one Sunday. The 509 took over the former Fascist Yachting Club in Naples' harbor as their officers club. We had a bar with plenty of German liquor and held occasional dances, inviting local ladies. Blouse and tie were required after 6 PM."
"One unfortunate incident occurred during our training there. Some men training with our new Bazookas (an anti-tank rocket weapon) used a vacant lot as a firing range. A dud rocket was not recovered and blew up when some children found it; several were killed. I was not involved in this but I could hear the Mothers screaming. I do not know if there was an investigation or if compensation was provided."
I ran in to my friend Frank Belfoy in Naples. He was with the 504 and knew there was a mission coming up. He gave me the name and address of a girl in St Paul he had been writing to and asked me to write her if anything happened to him.
22 Jan 1944 - Participated in Operation SHINGLE the amphibious invasion at Anzio
"About the middle of Jan. we went to the bay and trained on loading and unloading from landing craft. Jan 21 we loaded on to a transport ship and sailed north during the night to Anzio. About 2 AM we climbed down the side of the ship on rope ladders into landing barges. Naval ships started firing at the shore and a rocket ship sent off a barrage; there was no return fire from the beaches. We landed in the town of Nettuno, just south of the town of Anzio. The town was deserted, but I did see one dead German on the street the Rangers had killed. We marched inland about a mile and were told to dig in. Every one carried a small anti-tank mine, just enough to blow the tread off the tank and we placed these on the roads. A German fighter plane came in for a strafing run; the noise was tremendous. I lay in my shallow slit trench and had uncontrollable shakes. I was determined that I could never allow fear to take over like that again, and it never did. This was my baptism to combat"
"The next day we moved farther inland and came across a 504 group, also moving forward. There was Frank Belfoy and we waved at each other. The next day Frank was killed going to the aid of his company commander who had just been shot by a sniper. Later I corresponded with his girl friend for about a year, until she married a service man."
03 Feb 1944 - Wounded in Action at Anzio.
"German resistance increased and so did the amount of mortar and artillery coming in. I had been sharing a fox hole with a private who did not know that I was an officer (we did not wear our rank in combat). We were on the reverse side of the hill and it was getting dark. Several American tanks pulled up behind us and began to shell enemy position. They soon drew counter-fire, which was going over our heads. We soon became used to this and I got out my hole and a short round came in. I was in the process of falling to the ground but was hit in the upper right arm, chest and head by shrapnel; luckily I had my helmet on. There was no pain, I think the hit to the head put me in shock, but I called out that I had been hit and our company medic gave me first aid. They helped me walk back to the battalion aid station and a jeep took me to the beach-head evacuation hospital which was made up of a number of large tents with the red cross on the roofs. A doctor removed the shrapnel and bandaged the wounds but I had to lay on that cot for two days and nights while the more serious cases were sent back to Naples. This was scary since artillery and bombs were landing all over the beachhead and we could hear them whistling down. After I left for Naples, several nurses were killed in a bombing attack by German planes. On the same day I was wounded (Feb 3) my platoon leader, Lt Lowell Frank was killed. Later in the month my company commander, Lt Winsko and A Company's Executive Officer were also killed. All by direct hits to their foxholes."
"The trip back to Naples was quite different, it was by hospital ship at night and all the lights were on. The Germans followed the Geneva Convention rules. I was sent to the officers ward in the 118th Station Hospital which was on a big hill in the North part of Naples over looking the harbor. We also had a great view of Mt. Vesuvius which was having its greatest eruption of the century. There were several 509 friends already there; Lt Bob Sammons and Lt Ken Shaker, both with trench foot. Across the isle was our S-2 who was severely wounded by a bouncing betty mine while on a night patrol. One arm and one leg had been amputated. He died several days later. The next day they removed my blood soaked bandages which was the most painful experience of the war and then sewed up my wounds. I stayed in the hospital several weeks after which they sent me to "rear echelon" duty at the school house. I did not return to the beachhead."
"One night while I was at the hospital, a Merchant Marine Captain was brought in to our ward. He was drunk and had been drugged. He had to be held down while they pumped his stomach and he called the nurses whores and other obscene names. When he came to the next day, he couldn't understand why no one would speak to him. This was a lesson to me and I generally stayed away from the Italians."
"I was assigned as "Assistant Club Officer" after release from the hospital. This was a do nothing job which included taking inventory and checking orders of food etc that came into our officer's club. It gave me plenty of time to roam around Naples. One day in downtown Naples, a man, about 40 approached me with a beautiful girl who was about 15 or 16 years old. He invited me in his house for a chicken dinner. What a smile on her face. My mind flashed back to the Merchant Marine Captain in the hospital who had been drugged by Italians. I shook my head and said no thanks. Several years after the war, Hollywood unveiled a new young actress from Italy by the name of Sophia Loren, who they said had been brought up in the streets of Naples. She looked exactly like the young girl I saw. I often wondered if I had really met Sophia Loren."
00 Apr 1944 - 1st Lt. 3rd Plt B Co 509th PIB Plt Ldr
"When the 509 returned to Naples in April, they had to completely reorganize because of the losses at Anzio; B Company had been practically wiped out. I was assigned as 3rd Platoon Leader in B Company, Platoon Sgt and Squad Leaders were veterans of Anzio and previous operations, but most of the men were raw replacements."
10 Apr 1944 - 2nd Lt. Edward R. Reuter O-493461 B CO 509th PIB GO 5 Award of Combat Infantryman Badge
06 Jun 1944 – 509th PIB moved into Lido de Roma
"Rome was taken June 5th by troops that broke out of Anzio and we moved by truck convoy to Rome June 6. During the ride we learned of the Normandy invasion; a shiver ran up my spine when I heard this great news. Our destination that day was Lido de Roma and we occupied a college campus right on the Tyrrhenian Sea, with beautiful beaches. The classrooms were converted to squad rooms with canvas cots. The first order issued told everyone to stay off the beaches until mines were cleared by the demolition platoon. Unfortunately, several men disobeyed this order and were killed."
"Training was held in the mornings the afternoons and evenings was open so everyone could visit Rome, about 5 miles away. Truck transportation was available. I volunteered to operate a 60mm mortar school for the battalion. One Sunday I received permission to take a truck load of mortar men to the old Anzio beachhead. We explored our old positions and fired live ammunition found there. The most popular mortar round fired was the flare round which came down by a small parachute. They fired it straight up, and then retrieved the silk parachute which they gave to their Italian girl friends."
17 Jul 1944 - 1st Lt. Edward R. Reuter O-493461 SO 51 Relieved as Battalion Chemical Warfare Officer
12 Aug 1944 – 509th PIB moves to airfields in preparation for Operation DRAGOON
"Aug 12th the 509 was trucked to airfields for the invasion of Southern France. B Company commander was Capt Bing Miller, who has just married a U.S. Army nurse. This would be his last jump."
15 Aug 1944 – Participates in operation DRAGOON the invasion of Southern France
"The 509 took off, loaded in C-47 planes sometime after midnight, Aug 15 as a part of the Airborne Task Force, commanded by Gen Fredericks. We were supposed to drop near the town of Le Muy, about 30 miles inland. However the flights became separated in the dark and fog and the pilots had to make their own estimates on when to drop the paratroopers. Third platoon was split up in two planes; I was the jumpmaster in one while my assistant platoon leader, Lt Nick Martinez served in the other plane. When we approached the coast of France, the red light turned on as the signal to get ready. I gave the command to, "Stand up and hook up" then "check equipment and sound off for equipment check" and finally "stand in the door" I stood in the open door hoping to recognize some terrain features but all I could see were clouds. The green light went on as the signal to jump. I did not jump, but waited to see something besides clouds. After 10 or 15 seconds, someone said, Lt., the green light is on, we have to go". I said "OK, let’s go" and led the jump. It was still dark and it seemed to take a long time to reach the ground. I think they dropped us around 2000 feet rather than 700. I landed in a grape vineyard, a soft landing but I was flat on my back."
"I tried to unhook my harness, but it was so tight I was unable to do so and I couldn't get off my back. I reached in my knife pocket and found my English Seamen’s knife and cut my harness off. Just at that time, a shot rang out and I dropped the knife (and lost it). One of my men had shot another because the trooper had forgotten the countersign. Fortunately, the wound was not serious but it was a bad case of "trigger happy" nervousness."
"Dawn soon revealed that we were close to the ocean and near the town of St Tropez. Capt Bing Miller, B Company CO, apparently jumped on the green light and the whole stick jumped into the ocean. They were never found. I firmly believe than my delay kept my stick out of the water."
"One of my troopers refused to jump that night. My platoon Sgt, Elize McCullough, and I felt he might be weak so Mac suggested we put him at the end of the stick, right in front of Mac. When they started out the door, this guy froze at the door and Mac could not dislodge him. Mac finally dove over the top of him and out the door. It took about a week before Mac found us. Our straggler showed up about ten days later, saying that he finally jumped; the soles of his boots were worn thin."
"I had trained my mortar gunner to use the barrel without the bipod or baseplate. He would jump with the extra barrel in case we lost the weapons equipment bundle; every man in the platoon would drop with one round of 60mm ammo. Tony Larson, the gunner, lost the barrel on the opening shock when his parachute opened. Two days later, Tony was wounded by a sniper and sent home."
"After reorganizing, the 509 traveled east, along the French coast, liberating towns like Antibes, Cannes and Nice. The Germans were fighting rear guard delaying action along the way. The next battle was just west of Cannes."
"The Germans had a strong rear guard group at a ridge with a castle west of Cannes. The 509 staff planned a dawn attack against this position. B Co. was in reserve following C Co and we followed them single file down a ridge into a large ravine where the march turned south toward the ocean. This was supposed to be conducted under the cover of darkness, but things were held up and dawn broke as the 3rd platoon, B Co. was stopped coming down the ridge. Enemy snipers on the other side of the ridge now began to fire on the 3rd platoon. I was at the bottom of the ridge, leading my platoon and trying to get C Co moving but they were held up. One of my scouts Walter Stewart, who was standing right next to me was hit in the arm and the bullets were bouncing off the rocks nearby. Several of my other men were killed and wounded in that situation. I felt I had to do something to save my platoon so I ran up the ridge alone where the fire was coming from. A strange feeling came over me as I ran up this large ridge. My mind went back to my childhood when we played "cops and robbers" and fired cap pistols at each other. I seemed to have no fear at being shot. Fortunately, the ground was covered with thick brush and small trees so I was not seen by the Germans as I ran between their positions. When I reached the top, a German with a burp gun opened up on me from my right rear kicking up dirt about ten feet away. I dropped into the prone position and tried to plan my next move. Then an explosion occurred about 15 feet from me. I looked up, saw the smoking handle of a German stick grenade. I responded by throwing a WP (white phosphorus) grenade over the crest of the ridge. After this I heard no more firing from the Germans and began to look around; they had withdrawn. I returned to the bottom of the ridge; the 509 had moved on. I followed their path until I got to the castle. The battle was over. My C.O. asked "where in the hell have you been" I should have stayed with my platoon and sent someone else up there."
"We spent a day or two at the Cannes golf club and cleaned up for the parade through Cannes the next day. The whole city turned out. Several days later we had a similar parade through Nice. I have pictures of these events. My platoon also occupied the Vanderbilt Estate overlooking Monaco. I remember there was an elderly caretaker who had a German Sheppard dog, the shrubs and lawn were neat, there was no furniture; we slept on the floor."
18 Sep 1944 - 1st Lt. Edward R. Reuter O-493461 SO 8 Appointed as Member of Court Martial of an enlisted Soldier Lantosque, France
01 Nov 1944 - 1st Lt. Edward R. Reuter O-493461 SO 63 Appointed as Member of Court Martial Lantosque, France of an enlisted Soldier
00 Mar 1945 - 1st Lt. 505th PIR, 82 A/B
00 Jun 1945 - 1st Lt. 507th PIR
"In September, the 509 moved north of Nice into the Maritime Alps. The mission was strictly defensive; to guard the right flank of the 7th Army as they drove northward to link up with the Allied Army that broke out of Normandy. We still had the task of maintaining contact with the enemy which meant we had to send out patrols to establish contact. I took my turn with my squad leaders in leading these patrols. The mountain sides were so steep, that any movement was restricted to the trails, so we would place outposts on these few trails about a thousand yard in front of our main positions and we occupied several mountain peaks where we had good observation."
"The Maritime Alps were not too high; 3-4000 Ft, I would judge. We were never attacked except by occasional artillery fire. On one occasion, I took a day's hike with my Platoon Sgt to visit an outpost and when I returned I found my room in the house I was staying was hit by a shell. There was a large hole in the wall. We occupied houses when we could except for those on outpost duty."
"I led one squad to a high observation post. A very elderly Frenchman went with us, leading his mule carrying water bags. This old guy could out climb us. I returned to base camp, leaving the squad there for one week when they were relieved by a squad from C Co. A new 2Lt replacement was in command of this outpost and put too much reliance on tripwires placed on the trails. Austrian mountain troops surprised them by holding out light branches to detect the trip wires. Most of the outpost was captured, with one or two escaping back to our positions."
"About a week later I took out a patrol with the mission of "contacting the enemy". Proceeding single file along a trail, we were spotted and fired upon by artillery. I studied the map and determined that we could return to our lines by following a trail that led to a position that we had occupied two weeks before, now occupied by the 551 Parachute Bn. We knew there were trip wires on this trail. Dusk was approaching; I gave a small branch to Pvt Bob Powell and he led us through the trip wires, having each man step over them. I can remember the look on his face when I gave him this task (wide-eyed). Several years ago when he visited me at my home in Eugene, he could not remember the incident. Anyway, when we rounded a corner on the trail, we completely surprised the 551 outpost who were sitting around drinking coffee."
"Several weeks later, there were reports that about 400 Germans occupied a little town farther north. Although there was a road leading to this town, I was given the job of taking a squad over a mountain pass to approach this town from a different direction. This was a two day hike. At one point we were fired upon by a group we thought were probably Free French who thought we were Germans. The range was too great for effective fire. When we approached this little town in early morning I went ahead with two men and left Sgt Jim Nunn with the rest of the squad to follow me at some distance. I walked right up behind an old sheep herder; quite a surprise for him. He told me the Germans had left. We marched down the road to meet the 509 riding in trucks."
"We were in the mountains about three months. It began to snow in November so we had to utilize our shelter halves to cover fox holes or make pup tents. We were also given 48 hour passes to Nice every two weeks. The Negresco Hotel was the finest hotel in Nice, right on the water front, and was designated for officers; a beautiful place with a large bar. Transportation to Nice was a problem and sometime we had to hitch-hike."
"In early December the 509 moved to Nice and prepared to move into NW France by train. We were loaded into boxcars which during WW I were called 40 & 8 (40 men or 8 horses). This was a full days drive to Villers-Cotterets, where we moved into a former French Army barracks."
"My best sport in school was wrestling. I was always looking for opportunities to work out while in the service. I found one person in the 509 with previous wrestling experience; he was a young private from A Co. about my size. When we were in Lido de Roma we had mattress covers sewn together for a mat cover that we staked down over a sand dune. When we moved into the army barracks, I received permission to use one room as a wrestling room. We covered the floor with straw and put our mat cover over this. This was disrupted by to the "Battle of the Bulge" in Belgium. My wrestling partner, "Bill" was killed in Belgium, trying to stop a Tiger tank with his BAR. Today I cannot remember his last name, even though I wrote to his parents in Arkansas."
"A few days after moving in to the French army barracks, I was given a 48 hour pass to Paris. After checking into the officers hotel, an artillery Lt. approached me, saying he had two girls lined up and wanted to know if I would like to join him for a night on the town. II agreed, and we took the two girls to the infamous "Pig Alley" night club area where we watched shows, dined and danced. That night the Germans broke through in Belgium and all leaves were cancelled. The next day we were trucked to the army barracks, finding that the 509 had already left for Belgium. It was several more days before transportation was available for a trip to the front. Upon arriving to the front, I found that one of my squad leaders had been killed by a sniper. Germans in American uniform were in the area, it was cold and began to snow. I came across a dead German wearing American overshoes. He didn’t need them and they fit me perfectly. I removed them and wore them all through the battle. Many of the casualties in Belgium were from frozen feet. I exercised my toes constantly and kept moving from position to position. Most of the men could not do this because they had to stay in their foxholes. Those overshoes and my British seamen’s scarf saved me from freezing during the next month. The white canvas hooded jackets and pants we eventually got became coated with about a quarter of an inch of ice which gave us more insulation and helped break the wind."
"We were soon organized for a counter-attack and were riding light tanks of the 3rd Armored Div. As we deployed across an open field German anti-tank guns opened up; the first round about a foot over my head. We all jumped off the tanks into the snow. The tanks were knocked out in just a few minutes and the attack was called off."
"In one situation we were defending a position against a SS unit. We stopped them but during the fight, they fired on us with their multi-barreled rocket launcher; they made a terrible noise; we called it the "screaming meamies". After this barrage I looked over to my left and a boy from A Co. about 20 feet away, had lost the top of his head."
"A week later, B Co was ordered to attack; 3rd platoon was in reserve. B Co. Commander, Capt Winship, ordered me to “take a squad and eliminate the machine gun on the left flank that is holding up the attack”. I left the rest of the platoon in a large ditch then moved out with one squad and led them on a wide flanking move that brought us right behind an 8 to 9 man German machine gun position. They did not see us. As we approached the German machine gun position I could see they were all looking in the other direction, toward the main attack. I brought my men to within about 30 feet of them and called out for them to surrender. After a short discussion, they surrendered. We searched them and took them back to our former position. To our dismay, we found that German mortars had zeroed in on the rest of 3rd Platoon receiving heavy casualties from mortar tree bursts in the draw where I had left them."
"Winship was killed shortly after giving me the order to take out that machine gun during the attack. They ran into a tank that blew off both of his legs. Our Bn Surgeon, Capt Alden, stayed with him until he died and was captured, but later escaped."
"One morning, several days later, Major Tomasik, 509 Commander told me to lead one more attack. I was so cold and tired I wasn't sure I could do this. Then they brought up a large container of black coffee and we filled up our canteen cups. I'll never forget that cup of coffee; I was full of energy and ready to go. They gave us a short barrage of 81mm mortar fire and we moved across an open field of snow. I was the only officer left in B Co. and I had 12 men for that attack. We suffered two wounded but took the position with several prisoners. I told Mac, my Platoon Sgt, to get the men organized for a counter attack and I would guard the prisoners. When I turned my back on the prisoners, an old German tried to take my .45 from my holster; it was frozen in place. I couldn’t have gotten it out myself. I had my carbine in my hands. I turned around and ordered him to sit down in the snow. He was making his last effort for the Fatherland. The next day they told us the 509 would be disbanded and we would be assigned to the 82nd Division."
"We occupied a stone house, with no furniture and an amazing thing happened. Someone from the 509 rear area brought up the officers liquor ration. For B Co they gave me 10 bottles of Black and White Scotch and 10 bottles of Gilbys gin and I had only seven men to share it with. We had quite a party that night. Today, I can only remember two of those men: my platoon Sgt Elize McCullough and Cpl Nick Nagurne. When they announced that the 509 was disbanding, I broke down and cried. Mac put his arm around to console me. It was the only time I cried during the service."
"We spent the next night in an open field of snow, trying to keep warm in our "mummy" sleeping bags. Trucks from the 505 Parachute Regiment arrived in the morning and we received a "welcome" speech from LTC Krause, 505 Executive Officer. He told us we were nothing and we were joining the greatest outfit in the world. He invited anyone who disagreed with him to stand up and fight him. No one did of course, but this gave me a bad feeling about the 505 which stayed with me to this day."
"B Co. went into Belgium with 10 officers and over 100 men. At the end I was the only officer left with 7 men. The Bn was split up and we did not consolidate."
"I was never really given an assignment in the 505. I was assigned to Hq Co. of the 2nd Bn and just followed along as they went into Germany. I remember marching through Aachen in the rain. When we returned to their base in France, I was given a 48 hour leave to Paris. When I checked into the hotel there, I became very sick with chills and shaking and they took me to the hospital. After a blood test, they told me I had malaria; apparently I got this in Rome. I stayed in the hospital for about 3 weeks and missed the 82nd's trip to the Elbe River where they met the Russians. I was hospitalized again in about a month and had recurring malaria for several years. Following the surrender of Germany, the 82nd was ordered to Berlin. I was asked to sign up, but I had enough points to be transferred to the 507 which was designated to take high point paratroopers home. However, transportation priorities were given to troops being sent to fight the Japanese so we stayed in Epinal, France from June to September 1945. Col Raff was the CO of the 507th. He wanted to keep the men busy with athletics and gave me permission to organize a wrestling team. Since all athletes were relieved of all other duties and were given first place in chow line, it was not difficult to recruit a team. Many ex-509ers were on this team. We had a great time."
"Some of the 509 officers were transferred to the 504 and said they were very welcome there. My good friend, Herb Rose was sent to the 325, the 82nd glider reg. He told me he had trouble with men not willing to follow him in combat."
07 Sep 1945 - Departed Epinal, France for the US
15 Sep 1945 - Arrived in US
"Following WW II, I went back to Washington State College under the G.I. Bill. I graduated with a B.S. Degree in Physical Education in June 1948. I enrolled in the Graduate Program at the University of Illinois in June 1948, earning a Masters Degree in 1949."
00 Jun 1951 - Recalled to duty served two years in the Military Science Dept,(ROTC) University of Illinois. Rank: Capt.
00 May 1953 - Transferred to the Active Reserves
I received my Ph.D at the University of Illinois in 1957. I taught physical education and coached varsity wrestling at Washington State College, University of Illinois, University of Washington and The University of Oregon"
00 Sep 1970 - Retired at a LTC in the Active Reserves with 23 years of service.
1984 - I retired from the University of Oregon
"I married Beverly Ferney of Richland, WA in 1947. We had five sons and celebrated our 65th Anniversary in August 17, 2012."
"At age 90, I play clarinet in two local bands, and build and fly radio controlled model airplanes. I also serve on the boards of the West. Coast Airborne Association and the local chapter of the Military Officers Association of America and belong to the VFW. Beverly and I belong to the Traditional Jazz Society of Oregon and attend jazz festivals in the Pacific Northwest."
To view an interview with Mike Reuter go to:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC_ABeF0UEw
To view an an article about Mike Reuter go to:France will bestow highest military honor on WWII Veteran from Eugene published in The Register-Guard
Left: Mike Reuter- Platoon Leader, Right Lt, Lutz - Assistant Platoon Leader Jan 1945
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