EUGENE, Ore. — Many representing one of the greatest generations of all–World War II veterans–are now in their 90s. One of those WWII veterans is retired Lieutenant Colonel Mike Reuter.
Reuter remembers the war like it was yesterday; his scrapbook tells his story. It began when he enlisted shortly after WWII broke out. He was in his early 20s, a first lieutenant with the 509th Parachute Battalion, Company B.
In February 1944, Reuter took part in the Anzio invasion in Italy.
“About right here is where I was wounded,” said Reuter.
Reuter was hit four places with artillery, including his head. He recovered and rejoined the 509th Battalion.
In December 1944, he received orders to go to France and push back German forces in what would later be known as the Battle of the Bulge.
“I remember it was very cold. It was freezing wet. It was down in the tens and the twenties. I found a dead German with American overshoes on, kind of like goulashes, and so I took those off and wore those,” said Reuter.
Under his jacket was a scarf wrapped around his chest. It wasn’t just the cold they were fighting, but 10 weeks of constant bombardment.
“There were 150 in the company and I was the only officer left. I had about a dozen men left out of that group. They weren’t all killed. There were a number killed, a number injured and a number that had frozen feet,” said Reuter.
In all, 19,000 Americans died in the Battle of the Bulge, making it the bloodiest battle of WWII.
Reuter continued to proudly serve his country; three years during WWII, another two years in the Korean War and 23 years in the Army Reserve as Lieutenant Colonel. Reuter did what many Americans did and continue to do–protect and serve.
“I’m sure if we got into serious trouble like we had and we were attacked from abroad that the country would come together,” said Reuter.
For now he enjoys peace. The fighting is over, but never forgotten. Once a solder, always a soldier.
Video Footage Courtesy of National Archives