History of the 300th Combat Engineers, 1943 to 1945
When: February 1 to March 22, 1945
Where: Battalion moved from Belgium into Germany
- February 1- BNHQ to Born, Co A to Burg, Co B to Ligneuville, Co C to Recht, all in Belgium
- February 5- BNHQ to Lichtenbusch, Germany; Co B to Oberforstbach, Germany
- February 6- Co A to Wahlheim, Germany ; Co C to Nuetheim, Germany
- February 21- BNHQ, Co B and Co C to Roetgen, Germany
- March 1- Co A to Wacheim
- March 4, 5- BNHQ to Abenden, Co A to Thulr, Co B to Huertgen, Co C to Zerkall
- March 6- BNHQ to Embken, Co B to Muldenau
- March 7- Co C to Embken
- March 9- BNHQ to Berkum, Co B to Arzorf, Co C to Adendorf
- March 10- Co A to Fuskiecnt
- March 11- Co A to Rheinbach
- March 15- Co A to Liessen
The 300th moved through Aachen, Germany on January 25, 1945. Aachen is best known as the location where some U.S. troops, moving quickly toward the German border as the Battle of the Bulge was being fought, first crossed into Germany. Aachen was an historic city where Charlemagne had been born and later crowned Holy Roman Emperor. A German commander evacuated most of the 160,000 civilians and offered to surrender the city on September 13, 1944. Hitler wouldn't have anything to do with surrender. He had the commander arrested and transferred several thousand troops to hold the city. The ultimate battle was in the streets involving every building and at times every room within the buildings. The Americans poured 5,000 artillery shells per day into the city followed by tons of bombs. After weeks of battle, Aachen, and segments of the Siegfried Line around it, were secured. The price was high. 2,000 U.S. troops were killed but the Germans lost 5,000 troops and another 5,600 were taken prisoner. An unconditional surrender was signed on October 21, 1944 and Aachen became the first German city to fall to the Allies.
George Garrison and bridge duty in Aachen:
My platoon was in Aachen taking care of booby-traps and mines. We were in the officers barracks and we watched the P51s and P47s and watched them bombing the buildings around that Courthouse. We stood up there and watched them bombing and strafing. We stood on the second floor of that officer's training school while we waited for orders to go. A couple of days later one of the officers, it might have been Capt. [Charles] Farley called us out and said, "We have a job for you. We have no idea what is going to happen and we don't know what is going on but we are going to send you back into Belgium. We have some bridges back there that we want you to put demolitions on. You are to go up there and set up security and then set the charges to blow the bridges. Then when our infantry comes across you blow them. I don't know what is going to happen but if we all live through this we will all get together back in France someday."
We had set up that bridge in Belgium to blow. We set up our flag and our machine gun and we checked everyone who crossed the bridge, checking their papers. We were there three or four days. One evening a Full Colonel, a Chicken Colonel, drove up and he said, "Where is the front?" We said, "It's that way." And he said, "No, I just came from back that way and you can see all these bullet holes in the Jeep. They ambushed me. I got away but they shot my Jeep up. The front is back this way." Well, he went on and we never saw him again. So we had that happen two or three more times in the next couple of days.
One evening Jimmy [Pohorelsky] and I were up on the bridge and Dan [Garza] was down on the machine gun and we were stopping everybody. And here came a fellow on a bicycle with ragged and well worn clothes. He rode up to us and Jimmy asked him for his papers and Jimmy said everything was okay and you can go ahead. So he said, "Either one of you boys from Texas?" We said, "Yes both of us." And he asked, "Are any of you from McAllen, Texas." So we said, "That guy setting on the machine gun is from McAllen. So he said, "I am a soldier from World War I and I was from McAllen, Texas. I met the prettiest Belgian girl you ever saw so I stayed over here. And boys it's not worth it so don't stay over here. She was the cutest thing I ever saw and we've got 14 of 15 kids." I never asked him what his name was. He went down and talked with Dan for a long time.
Randy Hanes looks back at the city of Aachen, Germany:
Known for its treasures of medieval art and architecture, Aachen was the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire ruled by Charlemagne. The city was heavily fortified and fanatically defended by the Germans due to its religious significance. The resistance resulted in almost total destruction including seventy-five percent of the cathedral. A miracle or divine intervention - Charlemagne's marble throne was not damaged, not even a scratch. This is where I saw my first dog fights. P-47 Thunderbolts and P-38 Lightnings were doing air battles with the German Luftwaffe - what few the Germans had left. We were observing from a German hospital on the outskirts of Aachen. We were bivouacked there remodeling sections of it to be used as a field hospital.
His assignment changed, Don Richter went to Battalion headquarters where he missed his buddies:
I had just finished my breakfast and was stowing away my mess kit and cup when Lt. Campbell called to me, "Richter you have a new assignment. Cpl. Funk is going to take Sgt. Sweet's place as mail clerk and you are going to Personnel Section at Battalion Headquarters as B Company Clerk." I tried to object that I was a line engineer and needed to stay with my buddies in Third Squad but had second thoughts since this might be a chance to get in out of the cold. Lt. Campbell said, "No use trying to get out of it this time. You are going to be Company Clerk so get into Cpl. Borego's jeep with all of your gear and get going." I told Sgt. Ruffin that I was sorry to be leaving, waved good bye to my buddies and then got into the jeep with Borego to go to my new assignment in Personnel.
Upon reaching Battalion Headquarters at a large chateau, I reported to S/Sgt. John Poteet, Personnel Sgt., who greeted me, "Well Don. I have got you at last. Couldn't get out of it this time could you." He introduced me to the other clerks and then to Branford Brooks, Personnel Officer, who said we had already met in England. Mr. Brooks proceeded to tell me all about the job of Company Clerk stressing that being custodian of all Service Records of Company B enlisted men and keeping them safe and up to date was most important. Doing the monthly payroll and getting it signed by each man was of almost equal importance. I would also be responsible for preparing all company correspondence and company orders along with taking care of all personnel needs of the men of Company B.
Mr. Brooks showed me my desk which was sort of like half of a steamer trunk and contained all that I needed. There were two drawers of Service Records on one side and a drawer for supplies on the right side with two shelves for paper above and space for a portable typewriter. Mine was a Royal. The door of the desk let down for a surface to work or type on. I moved my desk next to Cpl. Haney Tyus who seemed the more friendly and helpful of all the clerks and it turned out to be a good choice. I opened the desk seeing the Service Record drawers were labeled A-L and M-Z so I opened the M-Z drawer and found my Service Record in a white little book about four by eight inches and a quarter inch thick. Poteet came over and suggested that a good way to get started might be to type up an new company roster with First Sgt. first followed by each rank listed by alphabetical order ending with buck privates. I thought I might find an old copy of one in the desk which I did and got busy typing four copies.
Aaron Glenn describes moving through Aachen:
Our tank was coming out of a block in Aachen and I guess he was guarding the town. The German tank was trying to come in and he was firing on this American tank. It was a light American tank and its shells would hit and bounce off that German tank. Then there was an American tank that came in from the south and he stopped that German tank by hitting the tank in the side. You couldn't take the German tank from the front, it was so armored. He came in from the side and hit him and stopped him.
Excerpt from one of the 300th Newsletters, Enjun Ears Gazette, Happy Birthday Mac, 1 Mar 45:
Yup, it's a fact, today is the 300th anniversary. 2 years or 24 months, or 104 weeks or 750 days or 17520 hours or 1,050,200 minutes, (or however you look at it) ago the 300th, was born. A lusty bawling infant conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (in grade of private). On the 4th of July appropriately, the 300th came of age and ventured out into the world, moving camp on a Sunday thus setting a precedent which has not been broken.
During its first year of life, the 300th raised considerable dust but in its second year got sorta stuck in the mud, so to speak.
So, to repeat ourselves, Happy Birthday Mac. And may the next one be even happier. You know what we mean.
Excerpt from one of the 300th Newsletters, Enjun Ears Gazette, H & S Company, 6 Mar 45:
Many reporters travel miles and miles for a scoop on a fire, especially an important one. A day or so ago we had one of those fires and the excitement was running at break-neck pitch.
The story goes something like this; Battalion Headquarters, suffering under the usual excitement of a move or two or three miles, was set up in usual comfortable style, with its desks, equipment and stoves in the most convenient places. Everything was going according to the plan, including the stoves.
Just before "chow", one of the stoves got a little "chummy" with some hay on the knocked-out roof and a fire was born. Amid tears, laughter, pushing and shoving, men were carrying desks, equipment and stoves out of the building to safe ground nearby. A water brigade was activated on the spot and the battle began, with the street water being hurled onto the back of the licking flames. It was a fight to the finish from the start because the contestants were determined to "take over."
Our commanding officer could be seen on top of the structure, directing and helping the boys in this desperate fight. Hay was flying everywhere. Water was plentiful and a lot of it seemed to hit unintended targets. After two or three hours, the fire was licked, the men went to chow, and the stoves were re-lit. The Rhine might be an obstacle but what about all of this stuff between here and there???
At the end of March, 1945, the 300th moved to Remagen, Germany. First Army troops came to the outskirts of the town on the west bank of the Rhine River on March 7, 1945. Scouts observed German troops retreating across the Rhine on a railroad bridge. Built in 1916, the Ludendorff Bridge was designed for war and had been used for years by the Germans to move troops across the Rhine. It originally included chambers to house explosives so it could be destroyed if necessary but the French, years earlier, had filled the chambers with concrete.
Remagen was taken easily with the Germans escaping across the bridge. U.S. troops waited for the Germans to destroy the bridge but much to their surprise, the Germans were slow to string explosives along the bridge. The Germans botched the job and the explosives failed to bring down the structure. U.S. troops stormed across the bridge, and in heavy fighting, drove the Germans back and immediately began to move Allied troops and equipment across the Rhine River. Reconnaissance Officer Lt. Shoop and Sgt. John Durant made a reconnaissance probe that took them over the bridge reporting this back to Company B HQ.
300th Engineer William F. McAlexander describes crossing the bridge at Remagen:
Lieutenant Taylor came up about daylight and said, "Load up right now, we're going across the Rhine River." So our group crossed the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen. We didn't go through the tunnel on the other side. We took a right and went over where we joined the 7th Armored Division again.
When we crossed the Ludendorf Bridge, it was quiet over there. We didn't have any opposition and were just sailing along. We didn't know the bridge fell in right behind us. We had no idea. We went way inland before I heard the bridge fell in. All of our groups didn't go across the bridge. Most of them went across on a Treadway bridge.
John Durant tells of crossing the Rhine River:
I remember crossing the Rhine River, I certainly do. We had something to do with the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. I remember Archie Menard, the jeep driver and myself crossing that bridge because there was a tunnel on the other side. I remember crossing the bridge and we came back. This was before it collapsed and they put the other bridge across. I don't remember for sure but I think it may have been a Treadway Bridge. Yes, I remember crossing the Rhine River.
Jacob Reinhardt and the 300th in Germany:
We crossed the Rhine River over a treadway bridge at Remagen. Also saw the famous railroad bridge which fell in the river. There were plenty of barrage balloons overhead. At this point, we became divisional engineers in support of the armored engineers and followed the Seventh Armored. We did any engineer work that the armored couldn't do. The drive lasted six days in which we removed three road blocks and moved about eighty miles inland when we were relieved. We went back to Marburg for a rest. We had one T/4 shot in the leg on that push and captured quite a few prisoners. We kept on driving and went through a place called Marburg which had a German Quartermaster Department and hospital. When we arrived, the civilians were looting everything but we put a guard on the place. We left there and kept on going. Sometimes we wondered if the armored was ever in the places because the people just stared at us.
We hit a few road blocks that night and worked a few hours getting them out. Then we took off again and rode all night hitting camp the next morning. This is where two Jerrie planes spotted us. We gave them hell with our fifties and that night they came back with six more. This time we had a picnic. We never shot any down but we made them sweat.
We went back for a rest after about nine days of spear heading. That night the CO ordered a drinking party. We had plenty of drinking material from the Jerrie store house. We moved back to Marburg and stayed for a three day rest. Then we hit the road again after the armor. This time we cut off the Ruhr Pocket and cleaned it up. This is where we could see an underground factory which wasn't finished yet. At this place you couldn't destroy with all the planes the world had. We went and stayed awhile at Korbach. During this run we also went through Frankenburg which was torn up at a crossroads of the town that was dive bombed. This was where we saw the German prisoners driving their own trucks and not a GI around to guard them. It was a mass surrender.
Yet again circumstances had changed the history of the 300th. They had been assigned the critical mission of building the bridge across the Rhine, a job for which they had been training for months. With the Ludendorff bridge still standing, the 300th was assigned other missions. They followed other Allied troops and moved over the Rhine and deeper into Germany.
Engineer battalions spent the next ten days attempting to repair the badly damaged Ludendorff Railroad Bridge. Four welders from the 300th were also sent to help with the repair work. It was on March 17, ten days almost to the hour from when American troops first set foot on it, that the bridge collapsed without warning crashing into the Rhine River killing 28 men with many more were injured.
The 300th supported the Allied troops during the Battle of the Bulge from mid-December, 1944 through the end of January, 1945 during a long, harsh winter. They traveled to numerous locations including: Filot, 2 Jan; Xhoris, 5 Jan; Louveigne, 7 Jan; Born, 1 Feb; Lichtenbusch, 6 Feb; Roetgen, 21 Feb; and Abenden, 4 Mar.
The activities of the 300th during the winter of 1944-45, included: bridge construction, maintaining airstrips, operating gravel pits, removed ice/snow/debris from roads, guarded bridges and cleared and maintained roads while assigned to various groups.
Don Richter remembers the bridges over the Rhine River:
After the German Army had been pushed back out of the Belgium Bulge, I was now B Company Clerk and in the Personnel Section with the 300th Headquarters. The Germans were falling back rapidly after the Siegfried Line had been broken through and we were moving almost daily until the front reached the banks of the Rhine River. The battalion headquarters was billeted in a small castle on a high hill overlooking the Rhine Valley at Berkum.
A few days prior to our arrival here Lt. Charles Shoop came into Personnel Section in the evening, as he often did after a day of reconnaissance. He said to us, "Men, what would you say if I told you that I had crossed the Rhine River and returned today?" None of us could believe him as we all knew that we had a mission to build the first bridge over the Rhine, a Floating Bailey Bridge. Then Shoop went on to say that the Ninth Armored Division, for which we were providing engineering support, had luckily captured a railroad bridge intact at Remagen. The Germans had waited too long trying to get most of their army back across the river before setting off the explosives that had been planted on the bridge. So we had lost our biggest bridging job of the war.
We stayed at Berkum, from 9 March to 24 March with A, B and C Companies keeping roads clear of rubble and repaired so that traffic could keep flowing across the Rhine while the German Army continuously bombarded Remagen with all they had including a V2 rocket which leveled several blocks over Remagen. Personnel and most of the men of headquarters had a fine time in our lovely billet keeping up with our work and then enjoying a movie up in the attic each night.
I volunteered to go into Remagen one day to help with installing traffic signs in the town but mostly just to see in person the bridge had captured and allowed us a crossing of the river without our having to secure a bridgehead and construct the Floating Bailey. A Treadway bridge had been constructed under artillery fire to supplement the captured railway bridge. Some of our men, I understand, were involved with helping the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion on that job. We went as far as the near side of the captured bridge with our sign installation and then traveled back up out of the river valley toward our billet. When looking back, we saw that the railroad bridge had collapsed into the river due to damage from artillery shelling and bombing. We could hardly believe that the bridge was gone only about 10 minutes after we had been near the end. It was fortunate that the Treadway had been completed before this happened.
Roy Welchel recalls being trapped:
We built a bridge over a river and the Germans blew it up three times. The second time we went across the bridge I made it to the German side. I could hear the Germans talking and then they blew the bridge. What was I going to do? How could I get back? I dug me a fox hole under the truck and hid. I had to hide out until our men built the bridge back. I finally heard my Sergeant yell, "Come across Welchel" and I went back across.
Don Richter recalls the good times in the Chateau:
And I do recall where and when this picture was taken. Battalion Headquarters was billeted in a small chateau on high bluff overlooking the Rhine Valley. The road in front of the billet made a steep decent and then moved along the Rhine River some five or six miles as I recall to the town of Remagen where the Ludendorf Bridge had been captured intact.
The weather had become comfortably warm during our quite lengthy stay at this Chateau so we went out to have some pictures taken. I think that the photographer was Cpl. Browning and the guys in the picture are: front row; Sgt. Morrison, Cpl. Clausen, Cpl. Tyus; back row Cpl. Namken, Cpl. Borrego, Cpl. Richter and Sgt. Feuer. This was some of the best time spent with Personnel Section in Battalion Headquarters.
Another incident that I recall that happened here involved my old Company B Commander who following our involvement in the Ardennes Campaign was promoted to Major and moved into Battalion Headquarters as Operations Officer I think. One day for no good reason he pulled his forty-five pistol from its holster and fired it out thorough a window. Following this Major Falvey was taken to a hospital after being diagnosed as having "combat fatigue." I understand that after some time in a hospital in ETO he was returned to USA and discharged as unfit for further service.
Ben L. White and Charlie Duncan find $3 million:
I remember when me and old Charlie Duncan were assigned to this infantry outfit that was taking over a town in Germany as they went in with minesweepers we called them. We were there to clean up so that the tanks and trucks could come through. They were shelling the town pretty good and one of the shells hit this bank. It hit the bank vault and money just flew everywhere. So old Charlie Duncan and I we ran over and we got a whole bunch of that money and I brought it home with me. Of course it was paper money and at that time you could not spend it or send money home. And some of these were pretty good sized bills. Back in 1949, I guess it was, I carried them down to a bank and the old banker laughed and he said there was $3 million worth of German money. He said I waited much too long to do anything about it because they have done away with the German Mark. This was old money and he looked at the dates and it wasn't any good. So I told people that I robbed a bank one time.
From the After Action Report for the month of February 1945 of the 17th Tank Battalion:
Due to the melting of the snow and frequent rains during the early part of the month, the roads in the area had almost become impassable by 11 February. On that date a detail of 56 man from the headquarters company and each of the medium tank companies and 42 men from the light tank company were sent to the area south of Aachen in the vicinity of Walheim and Rotgen to work on the roads. The work was supervised by officers and noncommissioned officers from the 300th Engineer Battalion.
The men were transported to and from the work each day by trucks from our Service Company. The men who worked on this detail were rotated so that each man would have an opportunity to receive some of the training which was being conducted in the battalion area. In addition to the men used on the road detail, which was supervised by the 300th Engineers, we were compelled to use approximately 15 men from each company to work on the roads in their respective company areas in order to keep the roads open. Therefore, we had only a very small number of men available for training each day. However, a training program was conducted for these men who were not engaged in the road repair work.
During the period from 11 February through 22 February, the men who were working on the roads remain billeted in the battalion area and were transported to and from work each day. However, on 23 February, these men were moved to billets in the town of Rotgen and remained there until 28 February, the date on which the roadwork was terminated.
At the beginning our "tankers" didn't like the idea of being converted into Engineers but when they realized how vitally important it was to keep these roads to the front open they performed their duties cheerfully.
John F. Wemple
Lt. Colonel, Infantry,
Randy Hanes "Welcomed" into a German home:
When we would enter into a small village and needed billets for a night or more, I would approach a civilian and ask, "Wo ist der Burgermeister?" (Where is the mayor?) They would point to his house. I would say very demandingly, "Get him!" We would take every other house allowing them a little time to get their necessities and then we would move in doing a thorough search for weapons of any kind.
In one particular house in southeast German in March, 1945, I selected an upstairs bedroom for myself. I opened a door into the attic and was amazed at how much meat of all kinds were hanging on hooks - sausages, hams braunschweiger, etc. Before I could shut the attic door this hysterical frau came screaming at me cursing and screaming for me to leave her meat alone. She wouldn't relent pointing her finger in my face and screaming the "Godt in Himmel (God in heaven) would see me in Hell for this." I finally had enough of this shrieking and stuck my Tommy gun right in her belly and shouted, "If you don't get the Hell out of my face I'm going to send you to Hell right now!" She got the message, spun around, and went down the stairs about four steps at a time still screaming and cursing.
That was the most plush bed I had ever slept in - sank down about a foot deep. I know I slept better than the screaming lady next door.
The following are stories are told about men of the 300th in the 300th newsletter titled “300 ENJUN EARS 300 GAZETTE” for the month of March 1945 while they were in Germany.
H & S Company
Not too many weeks ago, two combat patrol were activated. Each patrol consists of two men who have proven themselves as fearless men with guns, utter hatred of the common enemy within their hearts and possessing the will to kill in abundance. The first patrol was composed of Master Sgt. Lafevera and Cpl. Hartl both known for their blood thirsty traits so common among that type of species. The second patrol claimed Lt. Lray and T/Sgt. Bjerke as its charter members. For obvious reasons we cannot elaborate on their weaker tendencies. The call to duty came for the first patrol one rainy, dark night. Sgt. Lafevera and Cpl. Hartl left the CP, a little excited and anxious for contact. Hartl was the first to score when he dealt a death blow and forced the enemy to withdraw, leaving a single body in token of its defeat. The second patrol was called the following night and T/Sgt. Bjerke came through with the elimination of one more enemy. By this time our foes were entirely on the defensive and the initiative was with us.
Final score, two dead rodents, and four bleary-eyed men awaiting their promised pass to Paris.
Our able H&S Company motor officer, Mr.Richard is now busy contracting former native sons of Texas who are interested in a construction job. It seems Mr. Richard is interested in building a fence around the Lone Star State. Rumor has it that the states which border Texas have appropriated funds to pay for said fence. The big question now is how high said fence will have to be to keep the Texans in Texas.
T/ S Bjerke, in his usual amiable manner, could be seen a few days ago, gathering the dirty clothes of his fellow members of S-2,3. Bjerke made contact with four little female Germans to do their laundry, and he does it legally too since he has been appointed laundry man. He says his job is interesting at times because his German doesn't seem to jive with some of this lingo they hurl around here, mixed up with Russian can cause communications problems when you speak German and they speak their native tongue. It seems that Bjerke had such trouble but finally got it over that he didn't want something to eat, just some laundry.
Today is a day for celebration for the members of the ”HOBO” company. We have been here for two nights of rest, breaking the record of moving every 24 hours. Some of the boys have become "muscle bound" from carrying desks and equipment and have reached the point where an office can be set up, complete with lights, phone and fire in less than two hours. It seems that those glorious days in the Château Modave are being paid for painfully. No one should complain too much if they stop and think. As long as we are moving forward, the Germans must be moving backwards and that is what we want. We might not have anything to do with their retreating but we can take up space here and clog up the highways with our trucks anyway.
Have you made any postwar plans? Would you like to "blow" into money? For lessons on safe cracking, consult Lt. Spencer Company C. His latest "job" was a safe in the rubble of Meckenheim. When asked what the "haul" was, he refused to talk. Oh you old souvenir-hound you!
Now it can be told. On a recent road job, Lt. Millenkamp, Co. C was working as platoon on night patrol. In search of material to fill in some deep ruts Lt. ran across a brick factory, in which were just loads and loads of nice, pretty, new bricks. Hastily summoning the trucks, Lt. Millenkamp soon had the muddy road looking like a superhighway. Well almost anyway! Feeling pretty pleased with himself the Lt. was dreaming of a pat on the back by you know who. Upon arriving at the work that next day the road was just as muddy and rugged as the day before, and there seemed to be a powdered substance mixed with the mud,"What the hell!" exclaimed the Lt. It so happened that the nice, pretty, new bricks furnished at German expands were asbestos! What do you call that Lt. – sabotage! P. S. We know and name for it to – – T. S.!
*Pfc. Newhauser just returned from the UK and all he has to say is that there is plenty of both still in Great Britain.
*I was talking to some boys from "B" company today and they all look sad – – they blame it all on the German toilet paper, but we who have been in the Army a long time know what the trouble is.
*One of the boys saw two dogs fraternizing today and he remarked that it made him homesick –– "probably from Brooklyn."
*Batacao hopes they knock out that big gun so he can get some sleep.
* Pfc. Idar is sporting a black eye received in line of duty – – believe it or not.
*Third platoon of company "A” as their own pinup girl – Betty Grable as, "Miss Mine Field" – the mine field they would like most to lay.
T/5 James E. (loud mouth) Morris is also a billboard artist with the best sign over the week – "beware of mines – this is a one-way road and has been swept only one way." Even at that the sign paid off.
T/5 Battaco says these new ponchos are GI foxholes with sleeves.
For Whom the Bells Toll
The bell ringer did not know what to think when an officer and a guard came toward him with fixed bayonets and pistol. The officer did not know that he was T/O for the military government – – is his face red?
We also have an exclusive first! Our male orderly T/5 Shooman is a very devout paratrooper. He has the boots and he jumps off the back of a truck each day for an “invasion” of mail. His favorite nickname is "ripcord."
Don Richter recalls good times in Germany:
On 24 March 300th Headquarters, including Personnel Section, moved across the Rhine River over the Treadway bridge and proceeded a short distance down the Rhine Valley to a lovely little village of Reinthreibach where we billeted in what had been a lovely large home that had been occupied by a doctor, his wife and teenage daughter. They had moved into a very small dwelling out in the back garden. Most of their belongings had been thrown out of the main dwelling which had also served as the doctor's office by the German Army which had used it as headquarters. The US Army advancing combat forces who had gone on before we arrived there also used the house.
I felt so sorry for this family who had lost so much in the fighting and who had a son somewhere in the German army. The cute little fraulein seemed so happy to have all of us there even though we were the enemy. Our file clerk August Namken, was very fluent in German and she would hang around speaking with him and others of us would try to carry on a limited conversation. The doctor and wife stayed back in the far end of the garden in their little house and away from the enemy who occupied their lovely home.
One day, Haynie Tyrus, C Company Clerk and I, after we had caught up with all of our paperwork, somehow secured a bottle of very good Rhine wine and took it up a winding stairway to an observation deck up above the roof and began consuming the wine. We could see all over the village and as far to the east as the river itself. Haynie and I became a bit tipsy as the level of the bottle lowered rapidly and when the resident fraeuline came back down the street with a few of her pretty friends, they saw us up there calling out to them and whistling at them. We all had a really good time at a distance while avoiding the non-fraternization rule and the wrath of Capt. Hugh D'Anna. It was mindful of the song back home, "Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by."
Too soon we all had to load up all of our equipment and belongings on the truck and move out to keep up with the line companies that were providing engineering support to the armored troops that were rapidly advancing deep into Germany. The combat troops would advance each day while Headquarters stayed stationary keeping up with our paperwork. We loaded up in the evening and moved out during the night to catch up passing by the destroyed vehicles and destruction and then stopping and finding a place to get some sleep before doing the same thing again the next day.
The battalion participated in cutting off a large portion of the remnants of the once powerful German Army in what was called the Ruhr Pocket in the great industrial part of Germany. It was here that we learned of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and we were all very sad over that. It was on my 21st birthday that we received word that we were being transferred from the First Army to Gen. Patton's Third Army and would be traveling in convoy from northern Germany many miles down to Bavaria where we would find ourselves near Czechoslovakia and Austria at a small village of Schoding, Germany where we were able to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe.