CPL Robert V. Reno
Third Army, 71st Division, 14th Infantry, Co. E., 1st Platoon
Killed 1 April, 1945, Germany
-- Roberta R. (Brigitt) Caito and (in memory of) Robert E. Reno --
My father was born October 31, 1921, in Muncie, Indiana, and grew up in Winchester, Indiana. He was drafted into the
Army in 1943 and assigned to the 71st Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. Before combat training he served as a Military
Policeman in Birmingham, Alabama. While in Birmingham he and my mother, Alberta Garman of Coldwater, Ohio, were married
at the Cathedral in August of 1943. They lived together in Alabama until the spring of 1944 when Mother went home to Ohio
to prepare for the birth of their first child. My brother Bob was born June 29, 1944, and Dad was given leave to come home
to greet his son. Then it was back to Fort Sibert to complete his infantry replacement training. He came home on furlough
one last time in late November 1944 and shipped out in January 1945. He knew when he sailed on the General J. R. Brooke on
January 27 that Mom was again pregnant.
The 71st Division arrived at Le Havre, France and settled into one of the cigarette camps, Camp Old Gold, for further training.
Finally, on March 6, the regiments boarded the Ň40 and 8Ó rail cars at Yerville and began a trek by rail, truck, and mostly on
foot across France, the Rhine, and into Germany.
On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, DadŐs company was one of many called into battle against the 6th SS Mountain Division Nord,
reputedly one of GermanyŐs best. In letters received from his buddies and his officers Mother learned that he was shot in the
head by small arms fire during the afternoon and died shortly thereafter that same day. He was buried in St. Avold where a
local French woman Therese Sornein tended his grave until November 1948 when Mother decided to bring him home. Of interest,
one of his honor guards was an artist and did colored chalk portraits of both my brother and me that I have in my possession.
He was awarded the Purple Heart, the American Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern
Campaign Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the World War II Victory medals posthumously.
In 1991, I inherited from my grandmother a trunk which contained photograph albums of Dad, his garrison hat, his Purple Heart
and other medals, a book THE HISTORY OF THE 71st DIVISION, and an album of V-mail he sent his mother with postmarks from August
of 1943 to March 31, 1945, the day before he was killed. Like many of our dads, he died young, a hero, and someone my brother
and I never really knew; those letters introduced me to my father. There were also letters from his fellow soldiers (Sgt.
John F. Cecula, Denny Holloway, Edward Reinsmith, William Goodman, Father John J. Fahy, Frank Hagney, among others) and from
the lady who faithfully tended his grave in France for three years. Each letter gave color to the mosaic of DadŐs life.
December 2001, I learned of the existence of AWON, joined the organization, and found a place where grief can be voiced,
understood, and respected; where answers can be found; where healing can finally begin! Through AWON mentors I have been
enabled to speak to and correspond with men who were in my fatherŐs company! Listening to the reminiscences of men like Lyle
Pelkin and Fred Blahosky makes the world of my father real with sights, sounds, smells, and colors! Our family is so very
grateful for everything this organization has meant to us! God bless our AWON family and all the more than 183,000 orphans
of that long ago war. May He bless, too, and hold in the palm of His hand especially the orphans of September 11, 2001.