S/SGT Lewis (Louie) Annear
9th Infantry Division, 47th Infantry Regiment, 1st Bn., Co. A
KIA 11 July 1944
at La Caplainerie, near St. Lo, France
-- Kaye Olson, very proud niece --
Lewis (Louie) J. Annear was born 22 August 1918 to Roscoe and Nellie Annear of Richland Center, Wisconsin. During his school years he played sports, especially football
and won many honors. He sought relaxation by hunting and fishing. In 1936, he graduated from high school, and then helped his father operate the family gas station.
Throughout his life, Louie was a devout Catholic, particularly during the war.
On 14 January 1942, Louie entered the Army. Following training at Ft. Bragg, N.C., he sailed on 23 October 1942 from Norfolk, Virginia to North Africa. His Ninth Division
landed at Safi, Morocco on 8 November under Col (Brig Gen) Edwin Randle. Throughout WWII, Louie served in Company A, 1st Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division.
In Africa's Tunisia area, Louie won a Bronze Star for bravery under fire. General M.S. Eddy, Commanding Officer of the Ninth Infantry Division stated it well: "On 31 March 1943 in Tunisia,
Private First Class Annear as a platoon runner voluntarily exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, which consisted of machine gun and artillery, to carry Battalion messages in addition to his
regular company messages. Such gallantry is highly commendable."
He arrived in Palermo, Sicily on 1 August 1943. This campaign was brief compared to the Algeria-French Tunisia Campaign and the 9th Division experienced less action. It was 11 November
when he left Sicily and sailed for Southern England, arriving at Liverpool 26 November. Louie trained as a "Raider" in the Alresford area (near Winchester) to prepare for the Normandy
Invasion. In his letters home, he shared stories about his periodic passes into London during this time. Prior to the Normandy Invasion, Louie had been promoted to Staff Sergeant.
Boarding a ship from South Hampton, England on 7 June 1944 Louie joined the Normandy Campaign. On 10 June, he landed on Utah Beach between St. Martin and St. Germain de Varreville. His 9th
Division charged west to cut off the Cotentin Peninsula, then moved north towards the Cherbourg area. Coming in from the west, his Raiders entered Cherbourg on 25 June and joined in the
liberation celebration on 27 June.
Following this achievement, Louie's 9th Division moved south into "hedgerow country" toward the St. Lo area, which became a hot bed in July. While leading his squad defending an enemy attack
on 11 July 1944, S. Sgt. Lewis Annear was instantly killed by shell fragments from a German Panzer. He was KIA at the small crossroad village of La Caplainerie, which is 8 miles northwest of
St. Lo. He left behind his parents and three siblings: Gladys (my mother), Doris and Roscoe, Jr.
Louie was initially buried in the provisional Ste. Mere Eglise No.2 U.S. Military Cemetery in Normandy, France. In 1948, his remains were returned home; he now rests with his parents and
siblings in Richland Center, Wisconsin.
In addition to his Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Louie was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge along with 200 other Midwest soldiers. This badge meant an additional $10.00 of pay per month.
Although Louie sent a final letter to his parents on 8 July 1944, it was on 3 July that he wrote a long letter to "the most wonderful Mother and Father in the world." He shared of being in
the same clothes since D-Day, not shaving for two weeks and finally getting to the river to bathe and wash his clothes. His pants were torn and he had "no heels" on his boots. He commented
that as he and his buddies passed the French people along the road, they were offered wine, milk or cider. As always, he requested salami, candy bars and gum from home. Louie kept his
correspondence to his parents positive so they wouldn't worry. In each letter, he always asked for prayers.
It was 4 August 1944 before his parents (my grandparents) were notified of Louie's death. A delay in notification was not unusual in WWII. His mother, Nellie, never recovered from his death;
the pain of losing her oldest son was too great. Once a pianist, artist and poet, she ceased all of these creative activities. It was my mother, Gladys Gruetzman, who wrote the War Department
in 1945 to request details surrounding Louie's death. She did get a reply.
Throughout my life, I had little interest in WWII until 2000 when my husband, Erik and I were invited to Wisconsin to go through Louie's personal effects. As I handled his medals and effects,
looked at old photos and read his letters, a passion developed to know more about this fallen soldier. We researched the 9th Division and 47th Infantry campaigns for nine months.
Finally, fifty-seven years after his death we flew to France in 2001 to follow Louie's footsteps from Utah Beach to La Caplainerie. Village by village we pushed along his route, overcome with
emotion. We walked his path smothered in hedgerows where he was KIA and visited the site of his initial burial. At the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach, I received worn French and American
flags while "Taps" played in the distance. Tears flowed down my face. In the Ste. Mere Eglise Church, I connected with Louie; he commanded my attention. Our journey was published in the
International Travel News in February, 2004.
In 1948, Louie's Godfather, Francis L. Brewer wrote the most beautiful WWII poem titled "In Fond Memory of Louie," which mentioned Kasserine Pass, Bizerte and the Normandy Invasion. His
touching words brought great comfort to our family. On 14 June 2004 this poem was entered into the Congressional Record in Washington, D.C. To request a copy of this moving poem or our
published journey in Normandy, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louie never married during his short life; he had no wife or children to carry on his legacy. I was two years old when he entered service and four when he died, so I didn't remember him. My
older sisters have shared their memories of him. This has been helpful to me. I do have the slippers from Africa he sent to my mother (for me) in 1943. In his letters to my parents, he often
asked about me.
Since 2000, I've sensed a need and responsibility to keep Louie's heroic WWII contributions to our country alive. Because S. Sgt. Lewis J. Annear "gave his all upon the altar of freedom" he
must not be forgotten.