Walter E. Lauer

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Walter Ernst Lauer
File:Walter E. Lauer.jpg
Maj. Gen. Walter E. Lauer at Camp Maxey, Texas in 1944
Born (1893-06-20)June 20, 1893
Brooklyn, New York
Died October 13, 1966(1966-10-13) (aged 73)
Monterey, California
Buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery
Allegiance United StatesUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1917–1946
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held 99th Infantry Division (United States) 99th Infantry Division
80th Infantry Division (United States) 80th Infantry Division
66th Infantry Division 66th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War I
Army of Occupation of Germany
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star

Walter E. Lauer (29 June 1893 – 13 October 1966)[1] was a Major General in the U.S. Army during World War II and commanded the 99th Infantry Division (United States). During the Battle of the Bulge the green troops of the 99th, along with the battle-tested 2nd Infantry Division, held a key sector controlling access to Spa and Leige and large repositories of ammunition, fuel, and supplies. Despite being outnumbered by German forces at least 5 to 1, during the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge they did not yield. It was the only sector of the American front lines during the German offensive where the Germans failed to advance.[2][3] Lauer was a veteran of both World War I and II.[4]

Early life

Walter Ernst Lauer was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Albert and Anna Rehlmeyer Lauer.[5][6] He attended Cornell University, and left in his junior year to enlist in the Army for Worrld War I. He completed officer training at Madison Barracks, New York, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in I Company, 49th Infantry Division.[7] He attended the School of Small Arms from 1917 to 1918. He married Lily Grace Hunter of East Hampton. Massachusetts on June 9, 1918, and they had two children, Helen Ivy Bohin and Hunter Lauer.[5]

Lauer had five brothers. His brother Alexander commented, "There were five boys in our family, and with the exception of Walter, we were all doctors or pharmacists." Lauer also had two sisters, Mrs. Ernst Schaefer, a New Rochelle pharmacist, and Mrs. H. R. Evans of Brooklyn.[8][9]

Military service

World War I

He served overseas in the First Army as adjutant in 3rd Corps Schools and received a temporary promotion to 1st Lt. in the 1st Infantry Division on June 17, 1918.[10]

Interwar years

He was assigned to occupation duty at Coblentz after World War I ended and remained in Europe for four years. Lauer was promoted to Captain on 1 July 1920. While in Germany his daughter, Helen Ivy Louer, was born in July 1921.[5] Upon return to the United States, Lauer assumed command of the Organized Reserves in where he served in Reading, Pennsylvania from 1923 to 1926. He attended the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia from 15 September 1926 to 28 May 1927.[5]

General Lauer was then assigned to the University of Vermont as Assistant Professor of Military Science and Tactics from 1927 until 1930 when his son Hunter Lauer was born on 11 January 1928. Between World War I and II, Lauer attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.[5]

He then served as G-3 and Brigade Executive Officer in the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Ft. Francis E. Warren, Wyoming, from 1930 to 1935. On 1 August 1935, he was promoted to Major. During the scholastic year 1936–37. He was Professor of Military Science and Tactics at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin. Moving to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, he attended the Command and General Staff School, graduating on 20 June 1938. From 1939 through 1940, he served first with the 30th Infantry Division at the Presidio of San Francisco, where he was promoted to Lt. Col. on 18 August 1940 and later at Ft. Lewis, Washington, he was appointed G-4 of the 3rd Infantry Division.[5]

World War II

On 24 December 1941, he was promoted to Colonel and appointed Chief of Staff of the 3rd Infantry Division, and he took part in planning and leading the 3rd Division’s amphibious training and worked out special equipment and special operating procedures for the amphibious operations. He was Chief of Staff when the 3rd ID landed at Fedala during Operation Brushwood on 8 November 1942, and helped capture Casablanca in the opening stages of the North African campaign. When his unit performed so well at Casablanca, General Lauer was promoted to Brigadier General on 3 February 1943. He was reassigned as the Assistant Division Commander of the 93rd Infantry Division an African-American division at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. "It's hard to leave one's friends in a combat zone," he said, "especially when you are not permitted to share In their troubles and pleasures." On 2 August 1943, he was given command of the 99th Infantry Division.[5]

General Louer was promoted to the grade of Major General on 15 January 1944. He took the 99th Infantry Division to England on 10 October 1944 and arrived with his troops on the mainland of Europe on 4 November 1944. They were moved rapidly into the front line on 11 November 1944, just 35 days before the German winter offensive of 1944 hit the 99th. The 99th was assigned to hold a 22 miles (35 km) long front.[5]

Battle of the Bulge

The green 99th ID faced a German force that during the Battle of the Bulge on the northern shoulder at Elsenborn Ridge was judged to be 5 to 15 times greater in size. Their widely-spaced, untested troops managed to hold the north shoulder of that Bulge, substantially delaying the German time table and helping to turn the tide of the last German offensive of World War II. The determined effort and short time in front line combat led to UP correspondent John McDermott nicknaming the 99th as the “Battle Babies.” Lauer later wrote a book about the division's actions in World War II which he titled, “Battle Babies: the Story of the 99th Infantry Division in World War II," which was first published in 1951.”[5][6]

After the war ended, he was commanding general of the 66th Infantry Division from August to October 1945; the 80th Infantry Division from October to December, 1945; and the 66th Infantry Division from December 1945 to its deactivation on October 1946; all in the European Theater of Operations.[4]

General Lauer retired from military service on 31 March 1946, but remained in Europe to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration until early 1947.[5]

Later life

He returned to the U.S. and moved to Monterey, California near Ft. Ord, the successor to Gigling Reservation, which he helped found and build in 1941 and 1942. Louer had an open door policy to anyone who wanted to drop by at 3:00 on any afternoon to pass the time and say hello. Lauer died of cancer on 13 October 1966, at the Ft. Ord Army Hospital. He was inurned at the Golden Gate National Cemetery near San Francisco on 15 October 1966. He requested that he be buried in a plain pine box, like any other soldier, which was honored. On 16 Feb. 1974, his wife of 48 years was buried beside him.[5]

Decorations

Bronze oak leaf cluster
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Bronze oak leaf cluster
Fourragère CG.png
V
Bronze oak leaf cluster
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1st Row Distinguished Service Cross Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters Fourragère
2nd Row Legion of Merit Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and V for Valor World War I Victory Medal Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
3rd Row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five service stars World War II Victory Medal
4th Row Army of Occupation Medal National Defense Service Medal Officer of the Legion of Honor (France) French Croix de guerre 1939–1945 with Palm
5th Row Czechoslovak Order of the White Lion, 3rd Class Czechoslovak War Cross 1939–1945 Purple Heart


References

  1. Lauer, Walter Ernest
  2. Zaloga 2003, p. 33.
  3. Zaloga, Steven (January 15, 2003), Battle of the Bulge 1944 (1): St Vith and the Northern Shoulder (Campaign), Howard Gerrard (Illustrator), Osprey Publishing, p. 33, ISBN 978-1-84176-560-0<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lauer, Walter, MG
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 "Gen. Lauer A Biographical Sketch". 39 (6). The Checkerboard. December 1986: 10. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Major General Lauer Dead". 44 (5). The Checkerboard. October 1966: 10. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. FamilySearch United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918 accessed 4 August 2015), Walter Ernst Lauer, 1917–1918; citing New Rochelle City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,753,932.
  8. Gen Lauer Rose from Lieutenant (March 31, 1943) Long Island Daily Press
  9. "Gen. Lauer Helps Free Thousands of Captives" (91). Reading Eagle. April 28, 1945. p. 3. Retrieved 4 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. New York (State). Adjutant General's Office. Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917–1919. Series B0808. New York State Archives, Albany, New York
Military offices
Preceded by
Thompson Lawrence
General Officer Commanding 99th Infantry Division
2 August 1943 – 18 August 1945
Succeeded by
Frederick H. Black
Military offices
Preceded by
Herman F. Kramer
General Officer Commanding 66th Infantry Division
18 August – 27 October 1945
Succeeded by
Inactivated
Military offices
Preceded by
Horace L. McBride
General Officer Commanding 80th Infantry Division
October 1945 – December 1945
Succeeded by
Inactivated