Basic training

Playing ball and seeing the country

From Camp Maxey to Krinkelt

The Battle of the Bulge

Lost a man

Losing Private Snow

Elsenborn Ridge

Patrols and foxholes on Elsenborn Ridge

I had never seen so many planes

There was always snow

The people you meet at the front

Friends and relatives

The SS, chaplains, and postwar career

A few months in the hospital

Life after the war

War and the treatment of veterans

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Robert Walter was born in 1922 in Seneca County, Ohio. His young years prior to entering the service were spent within 20 miles of Fostoria, Ohio. He was part of a large family and grew up on a farm. He does not believe they would have survived the depression with 10 children if they had not all worked together on the farm.He graduated from high school in 1940 and in 1942 he was drafted into the army. He entered the army at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio and was sent from there to Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi.Walter spent about a year going through basic there. He does not know why but he advanced quickly through the ranks. He had risen to the rank of platoon sergeant within three months of completing basic training. He was a PFC for one month then corporal for one week and then made sergeant. He was assigned to Third Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division and served in that capacity until he was discharged in 1945.Basic training is a survival course to prepare for situations they may find themselves in. They learned to use their weapons and to get along with other people. They learned to be a leader and Walter was put in charge of 40 men for the rest of his career. They also went on maneuvers. It was all about survival.They did calisthenics every morning and ran obstacle courses. This was to get their bodies in shape. They also had to get their minds in shape. They ran the bayonet course during which silhouettes would pop up next to them and they would be graded on how well they performed and how fast they got through it. They also were put through the gas chambers. They went through these courses more than once. It was about repetition.Walter only served in the infantry and believes that infantry training was as hard as any other. They walked every day. They would do nine, 15, and 25 mile walks. At Camp Van Dorn they trained in the hot muggy weather and dealt with the snakes. They were training to get the upper hand on their enemy. Walters job was to make sure his men were sufficiently trained and to think about them before himself when they went into combat. He had a good group of men but during the Bulge [Annotators Note: The German Ardennes Offensive also referred to as the Battle of the Bulge] they lost a lot of men. From 25 December [Annotators Note: 25 December 1944] on he would get new people almost every week. Walter lost people through combat, capture, and frozen feet. He did not have much personal contact with the new men when they came in. Many of the replacements he received already had combat experience. They had come from other units and since they had the same training they adapted very well.

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Robert Walter had 40 men under him during the Battle of the Bulge. He never had a problem with that. While he was in the service he coached and played on the softball team and played on the basketball team [Annotators Note: the softball and basketball teams were both Company L teams]. In 1944 at Camp Maxey his softball team won the division title. There were not many baseball teams around so he stuck with softball. He had softball teams until he was 50 years old. At Camp Maxey he refereed the division baseball game between the 395th Infantry Regiment and the 324th Artillery. Hoyt Wilhelm played on the 395th Infantry baseball team but he was not pitching at the time. Walters friends gave him a lot of grief about the way he made calls. When Walter left home for Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi it was the first time he had been out of Ohio. Being away from home did not faze him. When he was first drafted and sent to Camp Perry he was interviewed and asked what he wanted to do in the service. Walter informed the sergeant that he wanted to be a paratrooper but he was turned down because he was thee pounds overweight. When they first entered Camp Perry they were lined up in columns of two and marched off to the interview. That is also where they were issued uniforms. They were not measured for uniforms. They guessed at their sizes and were pretty close but when they got to the barracks they would trade with each other to get the correct sizes. Camp Perry was also where they got their shots. When Walter first went down South he was sent to an army camp where everything was chicken wire and red clay. Walter was used to that living at home. At home he was barefoot because his father could not afford to buy him shoes. The depression was over but Walters father was still in debt because of it and never did get out of debt until the day he died. Walter felt like he was on a trip. He never got homesick. He quickly made acquaintances with the guys he was with. He also paid attention to what his officers told them to do. The first chance Walter had to get a pass he took it and went out. He enjoyed going around the country to see how the others lived. He also liked hearing how others talked and the slangs they used. He thinks that the Southeastern states were all pretty much the same. When he moved more west the talk was different. When he went into Texas the slang was different. When he got to the East Coast up around Boston he was out on pass almost every night. The way people talked up there was altogether different than what he had experienced previously. It amazed Walter how different peoples habits were and how they spoke in the different sections of the country.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]From Camp Maxey, Texas they moved to Boston, Massachusetts. They left Camp Maxey on 11 September 1944. After two weeks in Boston they loaded onto transports. Robert Walter was on the Liberty ship Argentina. The ship was run by the Merchant Marine and the guns aboard were manned by the navy.One day Walter went up on deck. Suddenly sirens started blaring and the navy crew manned their guns. Then they started dropping depth charges off the back of the ship. Walter later asked one of the navy crew how close the submarine had gotten to their ship. The sailor replied that it was about 13 miles away. To Walter that was still too close. Most of the men aboard ship did not know anything about this event.When they shipped out they left from Southampton, Massachusetts and landed in Southampton, England. The trip had taken 14 or 15 days. The camp they were sent to had no idea they were coming. There were no mattresses. They had to get straw to make their own. There was also only one light bulb in the entire camp where Walters regiment [Annotators Note: 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] was based. In England they picked up where they had left off in Texas. They hiked and exercised.When they were three days out of Southampton they were informed that they were bound for England.After a couple weeks in England they were taken across in LSTs and entered France through Le Havre port. The Germans had scuttled a battleship across the entrance to the port to keep the United States or anyone else from using it. When they arrived they could not get in so they had to wait for high tide.Walter does not remember a building still standing in Le Havre. The whole town was just a pile of bricks. Once ashore they were put on trucks and taken across France and into Belgium. Krinkelt, Belgium was their last stop prior to the front line. That is where they unloaded their trucks. They bivouacked in Krinkelt the first night. There they saw U1 and U2 rockets for the first time.They got to the front lines on 11 November [Annotators Note: 11 November 1944]. They were there to relieve the 9th Infantry Division. When they walked to the front lines it was dark so the 9th Infantry Division would not leave. Walter and the others just laid down on top of the snow. The Germans fired a couple shells at them and they dug foxholes quickly after that. The next morning they took over the front line positions.[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]Krinkelt was a small town. Walter noticed that in the country the cattle barns were connected to the houses. While they were in Krinkelt Walter found a beautiful jeweled pin. It was a stone and gold. He found out later that those pins were given to any Belgian girl who got pregnant by a German SS trooper. Walter carried that pin with him until the Battle of the Bulge.

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Robert Walter thinks the population of Krinkelt was about 5000 before the war. There was a church on Krinkelt. Water went to church the Sunday before the Battle of the Bulge. They were sitting on the front line immediately next to the Siegfried Line. There was nobody there except them and the Germans. They sat in their positions from 11 November through 16 December [Annotators Note: of 1944]. During this time Walter ran several patrols out and caught several German prisoners.Company K was in the area known as Purple Heart Corner. Walters company was right next to K with Company I in between them. Company I and Company K straddled the road where the Germans made their attack. This was the same road the Germans had used during World War 1.On the morning of 16 December at about 5:30 a bombardment started like nothing Walter had ever experienced. The rounds were going off behind Walters positions so he thinks they were hitting the American artillery positions.When the Germans started moving their men up it was not near Walters position. They came up the road between Company I and Company K.Walter got a call from his company commander who told him to go clear out a few Germans that were back in their kitchen area. Walter started back but did not even get halfway when he ran into Germans. He called his company commander and told him that the Germans were by him. Walters men started chasing the Germans. The Germans led them back to the road where their own tanks and artillery were coming down. Those were the first tanks Walter saw during the war. They chased the Germans across the road right in front of the enemy tanks.When Walter realized that a massive attack was beginning he had his men dig in in what had been Company Ks area although he did not know that at the time. German tanks rolled past him continually. Later that day he made contact with the rest of his company. His company commander had heard that Company K had lost all but 17 men.Walter and his men were armed only with rifles and were low on ammunition. One of his men took a shot at the driver of a tank. The tank rolling up behind it stopped and fired a shot at the but missed.Walters men had dug in onside the road on 16 December and they were there until mid afternoon of 18 December. They had no communication so they did not know what was going on. The weather was freezing and snowing.On 18 December Walters company commander told him that he thought they could follow a compass reading and it would get them back to friendly units. Walters platoon was to fight a delaying action then move when he thought it was safe.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]When it came time to go Robert Walter told his men that they were going up the hill behind them. They took off running. A German machine gun started firing on them but they made it to the top without losing a man. Walter only lost one man during the Battle of the Bulge. The only man Walter lost during the Battle of the Bulge was a private named Snow from California. Snow had lay down behind the tree next to Walter during the fight to clear the Germans out of the kitchen area. During the fight to clear out the kitchen area Walter sat up to throw a hand grenade and saw a white flag pop up out of a foxhole about 30 yards to his right. It turned out that there was a German machine gun team in the foxhole that wanted to surrender. They never fired a shot at Walter or his men. When Walter got back by Private Snow he saw Snow still lying on the ground. He spoke to Snow but got no response. When he rolled him over Walter saw that Snow had been shot in the forehead and was dead. Some of Walters men were trying to throw a grenade into a building. Walter wanted to know what was in it. It turned out to be nothing. It was empty. The Germans they captured were happy. All of the Germans going through the forest were yelling and screaming like they were drunk and Walter could smell alcohol on his prisoners. Walter had a hillbilly from West Virginia with him who checked the German canteens. Sure enough there was alcohol in them. Walters platoon shared the alcohol.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]They got back over the hill to Elsenborn Ridge at about 8:00 the night of 18 December [Annotators Note: 1944]. There were already foxholes dug for them that they took over. During their retreat to Elsenborn Ridge Walter picked up another soldier from his companys 1st Platoon named Art Molder. It turned out that Molder was from the same place Ohio as Walter. Molder was a sergeant and had his own squad but got separated from it so he fell in with Walters group.Walter went all the way through the Battle of the Bulge without a lieutenant. His lieutenant broke his ankle when they were getting off the trucks in Krinkelt and Walter never saw him again. He did not get another lieutenant until around 20 January when they were preparing an assault after the Bulge had been stabilized.Molder became Walters messenger that evening. Walter sent back to headquarters and when he was returning to the foxhole an artillery shell detonated right in front of the foxhole critically injuring Molder. When the medics took him away Walter thought that there was no way he would survive.When Walter returned to the United States after the war he went to tell Molders family what had happened and how he had died and learned that Molder had survived and was in a hospital in Michigan.After the war Walter went to work for the police department. One Saturday afternoon Art Wolder showed up at his house. Wolder was the commander of the VFW in Indianapolis, Indiana. When he died Walter attended his funeral.When they got back up to Elsenborn Ridge Walter found a foxhole that he wanted to move his platoon to. He asked the captain who told him that he would be exposed there. Walter replied that they would have good fields of fire so his captain finally let him. Walter made a mistake. The Germans launched three frontal attacks with tanks and artillery right at them. The first one came on 21 December. During one of the attacks the German tanks got so close that Walter had to call in artillery on top of his own position. Some of the shells landed among Walters men but the attack was stopped. Walter does not know how but the Germans recovered their knocked out tanks during the night. Even the men Walter had out on outpost duty 300 or 400 yards in front of the lines did not report anything.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]On 24 or 25 December the skies cleared and the fighting slowed down. Walter had never seen such an armada. There were so many Allied planes in the sky that Walter thinks he could have gone in the sky and walked from wing to wing all the way into Germany. He did not know that anybody had that many planes.Walter saw a number of dog fights and saw some planes shot down from both sides. He also saw a solid streak of bombers that flew from sun up to sun down. Seeing those thousands and thousands of airplanes was relaxing to Walter and his men because they knew that having all of those planes in the air took some of the pressure off them. The Germans were in the woods with their tanks about a quarter of a mile in front of them where the forest started up again. When the planes went up they would strafe the enemy positions day after day. On 28 January they started to advance through the open field. They had to walk through snow two feet deep. When they got to the woods the Germans opened fire on them and pinned them down until they could get more tanks and air power. After that fight it was all a matter of being able to keep up with the Germans as they retreated. On 11 February Walter took a patrol out into German territory. They did not have any contact with any Germans. When they got back a jeep was brought up to pick them up. Walter suggested that the lieutenant take half the patrol in the jeep and drop them off. Then they could come back for the rest. The lieutenant insisted that everyone would ride on the jeep. When they took off they hit another jeep head on. The lieutenant was thrown over the jeep they hit and Walter ended up pinned in between the two jeeps. That was his last day of combat. [Annotators Note: the interviewer switches tapes] Elsenborn was an open space. The only place there were any trees was the place where Walter wanted to put his platoon. There was just nothing there but foxholes up on a ridge. Walter came into contact with the 2nd Division [Annotators Note: The 2nd Infantry Division] and a British division. Both of those units were on Walters right as he faced Germany. The 2nd Division was the first to get back to help them set up a line on Elsenborn Ridge. The 9th came back too. Once the Allies were able to shore up their positions they were able to get more men to the front than the enemy had. Prior to that there was just a few men scattered here and there that would gather together and start firing. One of the biggest battles Walter saw while he was on Elsenborn Ridge was when a British unit was replacing another on the line. Their communication was not good and it was the British troops firing on each other. While on Elsenborn Ridge if someone was going to take a patrol out they had to notify Walter of the patrols particulars. One morning Walter that a patrol was going out an 5:30 in the morning and would return around 7:30 in the morning. 7:30 in the morning rolled around and no patrol arrived. Walter called the captain asking if he knew about it but he did not. Battalion did not know what it was about either. Walter believes that the men were actually German soldiers in American uniforms that were trying to get back into the German lines. Another time Walter had men on outpost duty who he lost contact with. He sent some guys down to find out what was going on and when they got to the foxhole all they found of the guys in the outpost were a helmet and a wrist watch. Years later Walter was at a reunion and met the man that the helmet and wristwatch belonged to. The men on outpost duty had been captured.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]Robert Walter feels that one thing people do not realize is how the weather affected them. They lost almost as many men to the weather as they did to the Germans. It was the worst winter since the early 1900s. The snow was very deep and ever present. Walter thinks that the weather in the United States at that same time was just as bad. It was the worst weather in a century. Walter was used to the weather. The ones he felt sorry for were those taken out of rear area jobs and put on the front line. They were so hard up for manpower that they went into Paris and got Air Force guys and clerical guys and gave them rifles. They did not last one day on the front lines. Some got frozen feet and others shot themselves in the foot. Walter does not blame them because they did not know how to survive in those conditions. Walter does not see how the men who were thrown on the front helped them at all. It was disastrous. If they did help then Walter expresses his appreciation. Being from that part of the country [Annotators Note: Walter is from Ohio] Walter was used to living with the weather. The weather would be freezing rain and then it would be so foggy they could not see. Then it would be a light snow and a heavy snow. Walter lost two men one night because of the snow. Two men in the same foxhole fell asleep. To stay warm they made foxhole burners out of cans stuffed with dirt and gravel then filled with gasoline. It snowed the night the two fell asleep and covered their foxhole. The next morning they were found dead. They had suffocated. Most of the foxholes that Walter occupied overseas had been dug by someone else. Walter always had three men in his foxhole. The one he occupied on the crest of the hill was about six feet long and five feet deep with a step on each end. It already had logs and brush over the top of it and got covered with snow. It looked like a hump of snow. When they stood in the deepest part of the hole they could look out of it over the terrain. Walter was wounded moving around in that area when he was hit in the back of the hand by shrapnel. Walter does not know who dug the foxholes he occupied. He just knows that they did not dig any until they got to the point where they were chasing then Germans. Then every night they had to dig a hole. One night they were on top of a hill and the ground was frozen. Each soldier carried a quarter pound of dynamite with them and some of them used the dynamite to dig their foxholes. It was comical.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]Walter was ill equipped for the cold weather. When he left the front lines all he had on was a regular pair of pants, a shirt, a jacket, and overcoat, and a pair of shoes. If they had been carrying their packs they would have had a blanket but they did not even have that. All of their stuff was on the front lines so when he left the front he was not able to go back and get it.About a week before Walter got hurt they received a shipment of new rubber boots [Annotators Note: overshoes]. Due to his job Walter was one of the first to get a pair. When he got hurt and was lying in the aid station an officer walked in and told the doctor to take them off so they could be given to a man on the front. The doctor did not know what kind of condition Walters feet or legs were in so he refused. This was around 1 February. Walter had gone through the whole Bulge and the whole winter with just shoes.When they were back on Elsenborn Ridge they had no ammunition, food, or clothing. It was at least a week before they got food. They got clothes and ammunition by scrounging off other guys. Jeeps could not get to them. They were finally brought food by half tracks.On one of their trips to scout a hill they found a tree that was stuffed with German money. All of the guys with him stuffed their pockets with it. When the captain told them that he had heard what the Germans would if they caught soldiers with German items they all got rid of their souvenirs. Walter got rid of the German money and the pin he found [Annotators Note: he found the pin in Krinkelt]. He would have liked to bring the items home but the only people he knows of who did were those who picked them up later.[Annotators Note: Walter sits silently for about 15 seconds.]Walter sent a patrol out while they were still on Elsenborn Ridge. The patrol had to pass back though his position when it returned. When the patrol returned they had three German prisoners. One of them spoke English and he and Walter began a conversation. The German asked Walter where he was from and when he replied that he was from Ohio the German told him that he had attended Bowling Green College which is not far from Walters home. The German was then sent back to be interrogated.Within a day of his encounter with the English speaking German prisoner Walter noticed someone walking along the fence who appeared to be struggling to get up the hill. The snow was piled up. Walter realized that it was an adult with several children in tow. Walter let her know where he was and let her pass. She was grateful.Walter was initially shocked that he had encountered a German who spoke English but later learned that many Germans did.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.] Walter was to take out a patrol from Elsenborn Ridge. Much of his experiences on Elsenborn Ridge took place between 19 and 25 December [Annotators Note: 1944]. When it was about time for them to go out he could not find some of the guys he was taking with him. Right before they went out a jeep drove up carrying the guys he had been looking for. When they jumped out of the jeep he saw that they were all wearing white long john underwear. They had gone back to the regimental area and stole every pair of white long underwear they could and brought them back to the platoon area. From that point on every time they went out on patrol they wore the long underwear over their uniforms as camouflage. Even though the Battle of the Bulge and the fight for Elsenborn Ridge were enormous events Walter still met several people he knew. One was a friend he had gone to high school with. His friend from school was a spotter for an artillery unit who was set up an outpost right by Walters position. He also ran into a friend named Art Molder and another named Bob Graham [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling]. Walters brother was killed while serving with the 3rd Armored Division all the way across France to the Siegfried Line. When they attempted to go through Aachen to breach the Siegfried Line that way, which was accomplished, his brother was killed. His brother was a jeep driver for a colonel. Walter is close to Bob Grahams brother. When Walter met Graham during the Battle of the Bulge Graham told Walter how his brother had been killed. A soldier from his brothers unit had gone into a copper mine and stepped on a mine. When Walters brother went into the mine to help the man he stepped on a mine that killed him. Walter also ran into a friend named Dick Schweitzer [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling]. There were 13 guys from Fostoria who served during the war. One of Walters best buddies who he worked with at the police department after the war had been in an artillery unit. Walter had been notified of his brothers death in a letter from his mother. He had been killed on 5 December and somehow Walter got the news before Christmas. In addition to the brother who was killed Walter had an older brother serving in the Marines over in the Pacific. After World War 2 ended some of Walters younger brothers went into the service. One was shot during the Korean War and captured on Pork Chop Hill by Chinese troops but was liberated by American troops who recaptured the hill. There were seven boys in his family who served in the military. Since Walters older brother died he is the oldest one still living. Walters brother who had been in the Marines during the war became a fireman after the war. He ended up committing suicide.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]Robert Walter encountered SS troops during the Battle of the Bulge. One SS man was captured in Walters area. Walter believes that the Germans knew by Christmas that they were going to lose the fight.If the Germans were cornered they would put up a fight but if they got out of the Germans way they would move right on through.When they were trying to keep up with the German retreat they came across a German headquarters. The yard was full of German motorcycles and there was food still cooking on the stove. The soldiers took all of the motorcycles.Some of the Germans wanted to be captured because they had heard the stories of how prisoners were treated by the Americans.When the Battle of the Bulge began the Germans were on a timetable. They had to get units to Antwerp within a week. They did not even get close to that objective.Walter got his hand wounded by tree shrapnel so he walked back to the town of Elsenborn to get it treated by the battalion medics. When he got back there the air raid siren went off. Everybody scattered. He was just walking through the streets by himself. It was scary. He felt better on the front lines than he did back there. He finally found the medics who patched him up and he returned to the front. Walter visited the Catholic church in Krinkelt the Sunday before [Annotators Note: the Sunday before the Battle of the Bulge began]. Walter was amazed by the chaplains in his outfit. They were always at the front lines and had no fear. After the war Walter did not suffer from nightmares or anything. His brother who had been shot up in Korea never spoke about the war nor did his brother who had been in the Marines.Walter just forgot about it after he got out. His experiences do not bother him. When he went to work for the police department he faced a lot more guns than he did during the war but it never bothered him.After Walter came home after the war he was at a restaurant having coffee one day when he was approached by a guy who told him that it was his last day as a policeman and suggested that Walter take over his job. Walter met with the mayor on a Saturday and started work on Monday. He made captain in less than five years. He left the police department to go to work for an aircraft manufacturer that paid a lot more that he was making. There was job security with the police department but the factories paid twice the wages.

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[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]When Robert Walters legs were injured he passed through a field hospital then was sent to England. He was in England from 14 February until 18 or 19 May [Annotators Note: February through May 1945] when he was shipped back to the United States. He ended up at the hospital at Camp Atterbury, Indiana and was there until he got out on 18 September.He had been in the hospital for the better part of two months.Walter learned that many guys were getting out of the service because they wanted to start college. That was the way Walter got out even though he should have stayed in and completed his treatment. He still has trouble with his legs to this day.Walter was in the hospital in England when he heard that the Germans had surrendered. When the news broke everyone wanted to go on pass. Walter was not given a pass but went out anyway. He got caught when he returned to the hospital. When he got back he got chewed out by his captain who could have taken his stripes from him but did not. He just restricted him to base for one week. By the end of that week Walter was on a ship heading for teh United States.Walter believes that he returned home aboard the Queen Mary. It was a nice ride back. The sun was shining every day. Walter stayed up on deck every day. One day he saw a school of whales and he watched them for hours.When they got back they landed in Charleston, South Carolina on 2 June 1945. They stayed there over night then boarded a plane the next day for Camp Atterbury. They hit a storm on the way and had to land somewhere else.In France, in England, and back in the United States every time Walter was carried it was by German prisoners. He was treated very well.The next day they got back on the plane and flew to an airport near Camp Atterbury then went by bus to the base hospital.Walter was in the rehabilitation part of the hospital. Once he had his exercise for the day he could do whatever he wanted. He had a class A pass.Walter had brought his car to the hospital. The car needed new tires and Walter was given a pass to get four new ones. He also got a pass which allowed him to get unlimited fuel. Walter went into Indianapolis every day.

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[Annotators Note: The tape skips at the beginning of this segment. The segment begins with Robert Walter talking about an American fighter flying through his area.] A P47 or P51 came flying through the area Walter was in and he watched as the enemy antiaircraft artillery shot it down. The pilot bailed out but as he neared the Earth they fired at him and he soon slumped over in his harness. It turns out that the pilot was one of the best pilots America had. Walter does not recall the mans name. Walter got home on his mothers birthday. Neither she nor he knew that he was going home. He had been home on passes before that. Walter was more interested in seeing people other than his family. He saw that there were a lot of women but no men. They were all in the service. He had gotten out early in September 1945. When Walter first got out of the service he just tried to blend in. Within two weeks of getting out of the service he was working for the police department. There were a lot of guys getting out of the service who were celebrating and getting arrested. After Walter brought it up to the chief that the majority of these guys had something to celebrate and should be treated a little differently. Walter was surprised to see that there were no men around when he got out. Now a days only about one in 10 would even qualify for the service. On 7 December 1941 Walter was working at a factory. After the war he kept in touch with his buddies. He is still in touch with some. In 1998 he went to a convention where he met a man who had been captured. The war changed Walter. The army saw something in him that he had not. He was timid when he went into the service but is not now. He also made a lot of friends. One thing Walter learned was to not talk about something he did not know about. Walter has been president of 20 to 30 different organizations since the war. He also took pride in the things he did. He convinced the school he went to to start a football program. He was also the president of the PTA. Over the Christmas holidays his daughter would always end up in the hospital with pneumonia. Walter looked into this and learned that the other girls she was with suffered from the same problem. When he discovered that it was an allergy to the Christmas trees Walter saw to it that the school no longer place live Christmas trees in the classrooms. Another thing Walter was instrumental in starting was the United Community Fund of Fostoria.

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Robert Walter does not have any very bad or very good memories of the war. All of his memories have their places. There is someone writing Walters story. Walter believes that World War 2 be remembered but not necessarily taught. He has heard that injured veterans coming out of the service at the time of the interview [Annotators Note: 2007] are not receiving the level of care he had received. He had been offered disability when he got out but soldier s are not getting the same treatment these days. Walter wonders if by giving soldiers things to protect their bodies we are going too far. He feels personally that he would rather be killed than to lose his arms. When he was in combat he wanted to come out whole. Walter believes that museums like The National WWII Museum are necessary. He feels that if just one person is able to realize what the soldiers went through it is worth it. Walter never cared about history when he was in school. Now he talks to kids in schools. At his granddaughters school he gave a talk on the Battle of the Bulge. The following week he got notes from all the kids thanking him. Walter always thought that the 99th [Annotators Note: the 99th Infantry Division] was the best trained outfit in the army. The men in his platoon were well trained and disciplined and performed how he expected them to. The 99th was considered a specialized unit when they went overseas. When they left Camp Maxey to go overseas they had no idea where they were going. No one was supposed to know they were coming but the Germans knew they were there. As far as the war itself he believes that it was fought for big business and big oil companies. It is no different than the wars being fought today. Walter does not have any ill feelings toward the Germans because his family is German.
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All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.