Segment 1


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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