Bio: Norman Reineking (Military Memories)
Contact: Betty Comstock
----Source: Reineking Family Scrapbook by Gail Reineking Jaeger
Surnames: Reineking, Simonson, Meinholdt
An Interview with a WW II Veteran I thank my cousin Norman Reineking for spending time with me for this interview and sharing his memories of his World War II experience. Reid Simonson (son of IdaGene Meinholdt Simonson, age of Reid at time of interview, approximately 12 years)
I have had many relatives involved in WW II, and all of them saw different action. My mother’s father, Grandpa Doc(Oscar Otto Meinholdt), enlisted in 1942 at the age of 31. He was a SeaBee in the Navy. He was a cook, and spent all of his enlisted time aboard a ship transporting troops and equipment to battle sites. His ship picked up troops in Newfoundland, and sailed across the Pacific. He was in Hawaii and the Phillipines. His convoy was involved in one major sea battle. My grandfather died before I was born so I couldn’t talk to him about his experiences. My Uncle Wally, who lives in Montana, was a Marine that landed on Iwa Jima. He saw some pretty heavy fighting, and he does not talk to anyone about his experience, not even his wife. Uncle Frank was drafted right after high school when he turned 18. He went over to Europe and landed in Normandy. He was a tank driver and fought for General Patton. He also helped liberate concentration camps. Finally there’s my cousin Norman Reineking. I decided to interview because he was not a soldier but a first-aid medic.
Norman was drafted into the army when he was 23. He had 16 weeks of basic training and then he was shipped off to be a first-aid medic with the allies. He entered a division with 15,000 other guys. Norman was a medic with the infantry.
During his time in Europe he met many German, French and
Dutch civilians. Most were happy to have the allies save them, but the Germans
were very unhappy. Norman also said the German soldiers were unhappy, too.
The medics and soldiers got very little free time. There was never enough time to have a party or enjoy a short vacation. They had to spend all of their time getting ready to go to battle again. So Norman cleaned and sterilized his equipment most of the time. Any other time most of the guys would rest.
The medics had an interesting food ration system. They would get hot food one or two times a week. If they didn’t get that they could rely upon an A, B, C and D rations. The A ration and B Ration contained meat and crackers. The C ration contained 2 sealed cans. One was meatballs and the other was crackers. The men would also get their cigarettes with this ration. The D ration was very sparse since all it contained was a chocolate bar.
Throughout the war Norman had a few close calls. Artillery shells and buzz bombs would come close to ending the medics’ lives. The buzz bomb was similar to a cruise missile. The Germans would launch a 500 pound bomb with short wings on the edge of this crude machine. The bomb would go until it ran out of gas, falling to the ground where ever it happened to be. This was not a very effective weapon and played no major role in the war. The Germans used this weapon in hope of scaring the citizens into surrendering.
Norman encountered a handful of German wounded soldiers. The Geneva Convention of War required that they treat the enemy. Norman objected to this. He realized that this was the enemy that he was keeping alive, but he is a humane person so he treated the Germans with respect.
After the Germans were defeated, the War in the Pacific continued on. The rumor going around was the medics were not even going to stop in the U.S. but go straight to Japan. They were already training to do this mission, but Norman and his buddies were not needed for the effort in Japan. Since Norman was a first aid medic he saw a lot of wounded dying men. The first aid medics would be about a mile or even a couple hundred yards from the front lines. Their job was to clean the wounds and stop the bleeding. After that the wound would be wrapped up and the soldier was sent back to the field hospitals for surgery. They would not do any surgery unless it meant they could save the man’s life. Many of the wounded walked in right off of the battle, but most of the time an ambulance was deployed to retrieve the wounded.
At the end of our interview Norman wanted to point out
that the biggest battle he was in was the Battle of the Bulge. His final
statement to me was “War is hard on the mind, body and soul. Anybody who has not
been there can never understand the true meaning of it.”
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