Tuesday, Eugene honored its veterans at the annual “11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month” ceremony at the Veteran’s Building downtown.
Mike Reuter served in the 509 Parachute Infantry Battalion during World War Two. He arrived with his infantry in Italy in 1944 and soon after, they were engaged in action.
Reuter: “Well our first mission that I went on was at the Anzio Beachhead and we went into the beach on landing craft with the Rangers and I was wounded at Anzio so I only was there 10 days, but it was a very fierce battle and the units were there for many, quite a few months.”
Reuter recovered from his shrapnel injury in Naples and then met his unit in Rome before they entered into France.
Reuter: “We were the first troops into Cannes and Saint-Tropez and Nice and then we went to the Alps, up in the maritime Alps on the French-Italian boarder and we fought as mountain troops up there and then they pulled us back in December of 1944 and we went north to the northern part of France where we put in our army barracks, French army barracks, up there. Then the Battle of the Bulge broke out and we – we were in that for several months.”
Reuter says he was lucky to walk away from the Battle of the Bulge alive.
Reuter: “Out of the 10 officers in our company I was the only one left at the end of that and out of 150 men, why, I only had 10 men left and a lot of people were frozen. It was very cold. We were in the snow – living out in the snow for several months.”
Reuter returned home shortly after the Battle of the Bulge. He finished his degree at Washington State University and later became a professor. He taught at the University of Oregon and has lived in Eugene for over 50 years where he is now actively involved in several veteran groups.