Intermission Stories (20)

2. Robert Rader

Cpl. Robert Rader

Easy Company/506th PIR/101st A/B

Robert Rader was mentioned in the book, “Band of Brothers,” by Stephen Ambrose, but was not part of the HBO miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.  This story was condensed from the book, “A Company of Heroes: by Marcus Brotherton.

It was Rader’s idea to volunteer for the 101st Airborne, along with his hometown friends, Don Hoobler and William Howell, and the buddies were sent off to Camp Toccoa.  The three young men together with their Appalachian accents inspired them to call themselves “The Three Hillbillies.”

On the plane to Normandy, a shell went through the plane and between Rader and Johnny Martin, so close they could feel the burn.  Later, the troopers discovered that their plane had been hit 250 times.   Once on the ground, their first encounter with the enemy was with Russian and Polish troops fighting for the Germans.   As they advanced, their next engagement turned out to be a group of Hitler Youth who screamed, “I will die for the Führer,” as they attacked the men.  Seeing those young faces lie dead in the dirt made a serious impact on Rader.

Burr Smith (L) & Bob Rader (R) , 1982 just prior to Smith's passing.

Burr Smith (L) & Bob Rader (R) , 1982 just prior to Smith’s passing.

The next big jump was Market-Garden in Holland on Sunday, 17 September 1944.  They had 79 constant days of combat.  Rader was hit in the elbow as another soldier cleaned his gun, but with the enemy everywhere, sending the wounded back was impossible.  They bandaged Robert’s arm and he went back to the front line.  Soon afterward, Rader was in the midst of a bayonet charge.

 In Bastogne, Rader’s eyelids froze open twice.  His extremities were so cold he couldn’t feel them.  During this battle, the trooper took a bullet to the hip, but he was so cold, he never felt it.  The shell was located during a CAT scan in 1987!

The 101st went onward to Hitler’s Nest and then Austria, as those of you who read the book are aware.  Robert Rader from the company of heroes went on to become a school teacher.  He had sworn to himself, the day he saw the dead Hitler Youth Group, that he would devote his life to helping children and he carried out his promise.  His hometown buddies did not come back with him.

Robert Rader had left the Army Air Corps as a Staff Sergeant.  As he kept in touch with his war buddies, he signed his letters, “Robert F. Rader, here.  Be good. Be careful. Sleep warm.”

SSgt. Robert F. Rader passed away 7 April 1997.

“In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I am treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, “Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’  No, I answered, but I served with a company of heroes.”
_______Major Richard Winters
Easy Company Commander

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“Band of Brothers” correction –

Sgt. Albert Blithe

Sgt. Albert Blithe

The book “A Company of Heroes” rectifies two mistakes made about Albert Blithe:  (1) – Blithe was depicted as shot in the neck & (2) – that he never recovered from his wounds and later died in 1948.  The truth, as attested by Blithe’s wife and son – he was wounded in the right shoulder and lived to jump with the 82nd Airborne in the ’50s.  After many attempts to contact Hanks and Spielberg, they eventually managed to have the correction made.

An example of persistence in research as done by Mr. Brotherson.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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WWII current news – 

The rising sea levels are being blamed for having washed, what is believed to be, the remains of 26 Japanese soldiers from WWII on Santo Island in the Marshall Island group.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Prudence Boyd – Devonport, NZ; RNZANC # 827640, WWII

Andrew Hanish – Boise, ID; USMC, (Ret. 24 years), Vietnam

Bronze Star

Bronze Star

Joe Hart – Pea Ridge, AR; US Army Air Corps, Colonel, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot

Eugene Montandon – Danbury, WI; US Army, Sgt.

Johnny Newell – Hewett, OH; US Army, Korea

Jack Oliver Sr. – Topeka, KS; US Army Air Corps (10 yrs.) WWII; US Air Force (16 yrs.)

Curtis Peterson – Copperas Cove, TX; US Army, MSgt., Bronze Star

Howard Pulleyblank – Ottawa, Can.; RC Navy, WWII, ETO, HMCS Rimouski

Janus Sweat – Columbia, SC; US Army, Korea

James Tapp – Fort Collins, CO; US Air Force, Colonel (Ret.), WWII, PTO, fighter pilot, 78th Fighter Squadron, P-51D, Bronze Star

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 9, 2014, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 91 Comments.

  1. How fitting that he said he was not a hero, but served with a company of heroes. Such a great tribute to one of those unsung heroes of life.

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    • Yes, I liked that quote myself, Bev. But many were like that. My father never said “I did this” or “I did that..” It was always,” the 11th A/B did that…” Thanks for reading.

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  2. Your posts are always informative and well written! Usually very moving too. Thank you!

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  3. Great story on Robert Rader, he looks so young in the initial picture.
    Great reading on a young guy who had many war experiences.
    Thanks for the link to Band of Brothers, I tend to collect links to books
    and then get them from the library.
    Regards
    Emu aka Ian

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    • I find Thrift Books. com and Abe Books.com to be the best way to obtain those that are out of print. They can be as cheap as $3.00 each. (not a clue what the conversion rate is)

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  4. The intermission stories are great. I don’t mind more.

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    • Thank you, Gallivanta. Eye-witness stories will continue even after starting WWII again, but the research I’m waiting for, the post itself is more up-to-date than WWII or Korean War era, so I’d like to get it in before I proceed into early 20th Century Pacific.

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  5. What a brave and tough man! Having the shell casing found all those years later and he didn’t feel it? Oh my goodness what they endured.

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  6. Wow, another great story. I can’t imagine being so cold you don’t even know you’ve been shot. And that’s just one aspect of his amazing story. Thanks again for sharing another piece of history.

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    • My pleasure, Linda. I was only planning to do 20 of these, but the story and photos I was expecting to be the last is still being researched, may have found the man’s brother, etc. – and all this is being done between Florida and Calif. I don’t think people will mind if I carry on the Intermission Stories for awhile longer, do you?

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  7. Wonderful story. I love hearing survival stories. On a separate note, I’ve just started Rick Atkinson’s “In the Company of Soldiers” about the 101st Airborne in Iraq. What a history that division has.

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  8. Robert Rader was one tough sob.

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  9. Truth again outdoes fiction!

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  10. gp, To answer your question re sights in Arnhem, Holland: the new replacement bridge on the old site, the cemetery which is quite impressive & the scene of a yearly ceremony & ritual, a tank from the era (not sure if authentic to the battle), & the extensive museum with all sorts of artifacts & photos & news clippings. And off course, the bus ride along the streets of Arnhem describing the action & troop movements, etc. Phil

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  11. Robert Rader continued to be a hero by becoming a teacher as a result of his experience. I suspect a generation of children were positively influenced. Thanks for the story. –Curt

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  12. It is amazing what these men had to endure. The History Channel is airing a wonderful documentary the World Wars they did an amazing job of recreating some of the world leaders from the time. I watch in awe of these men many who lived through WWI and WW2.

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  13. Very splendid reporting once again, gpcox. I have difficulty following your last comments but regardless, when you say his childhood buddies did not come back, are you inferring they were sadly KIA or stayed to marry? And to carry that particular memory from hell… the children…

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  14. gp, Enjoyed Cpl. Robert Rader & his comrades in arms’ story! We visited the major points of interest of “Market-Garden,” Arnhem, Holland, when we were on a riverboat cruise in 2011; the bridge, cemetery, museum, the town,etc. AND thanks for reading my post on the Civil War from a while back on excuseusforliving.com. Phil

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    • No problem, it sometimes takes me awhile to reciprocate, but I DO get there eventually. Was there much in the way of historic sites in Market-Garden when you were there?

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  15. My son-in-law was a Screaming Eagle. So proud of him: two tours in Egypt and one in Iraq. Stories of the 101st Airborne and those patriots who fought so hard always touch my heart. Thank you for another great post.

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  16. Reblogged this on Maiden on the Midway and commented:
    Here’s the story of a WWII Soldier who enlisted with two of his hometown buddies. Thanks you pacificparatrooper for sharing!

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  17. This was a great story, thank you. My grandfather was on those beaches in 1944 with his company of Marines. He walked off that island. I’m proud he was part of The Greatest Generation and I wish I had stories of his to share but he never, ever spoke of the wars. WWII, Korea. Semper Fi. (reblogging) 🙂

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  18. Now I have another book to read. Growing up, I knew so many adults who had served in WWII and Korea. None felt that they were heroes but they all remembered someone who was. I think they all were.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Not many units saw constant combat as the 101st, I reckon – and their friendly rivalry with the 82nd is legendary.

    Children throwing away their lives like that – can be wrenching.

    I still can’t come to terms with how Goebbels’ wife (who was madly in love with Hitler – she was mad more than anything else) calmly fed poison to her 6 children in the last days of the Reich.

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  20. Love the story and can’t get that bullet that went through a frozen hip unnoticed out of my mind – now that is a detail that tells a great deal of how wretched the conditions at the battlefronts were.

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  21. Pierre Lagacé

    I know why I like this blog so much.
    I can relate to this story because I knew so much about these battles.
    Now I have a very different view.
    Up close and personal…
    Great story GP.

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  22. My Stepfather was a paratrooper in WW2. He is still alive and strong. These are great and strong men. We cannot forget. Thank you for the amazing story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is NO question as to the phrase “The Greatest Generation.” Many thanks to your grandfather for his effort in helping this world of ours. Do you care to share any stories of his? unit? where served? a humorous story?

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      • Pierre Lagacé

        I like it when you ask your readers to contribute. There are so many untold stories out there. Some people are even unaware of what their father or grandfather… did in the war. The problem is separating the facts from fiction.

        We will leave that to “historians”.

        Someone wrote this on one of my blogs this morning…

        My Uncle was M. J. Mills of Auckland, N.Z. He served in 132 Squadron – missing in action 19-11-1942. His file is on the Cenotaph site of http://www.aucklandmuseum.com You may find other NZers there also. There is a photo of inside his hut at Dunnville. To find names who were in the same training unit on the web is astonishing. My cousin scanned Graduation Banquet covers. One has ‘The Three Musketeers’ written on top. Then underneath wings of RAF and NZ are the names–A.L. Ray – J.E. Shields – M.J.Mills.Also PDFs of lists of Commaning Officers – Flying Instructors – Menus and graduates.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Technology today has us reaching ’round the globe and discovering so much every day!

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          • Pierre Lagacé

            I can never refuse when someone wants to contribute…

            In reply to your comment
            Would you like to share those mementoes on the blog? This is how this blog preserves those …

            bfvon 21m

            Yes. I can then send to you.

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            • Pierre Lagacé

              He seems to have been a Spitfire pilot with 132 Squadron. Shot down and killed in late 1942.

              Something to look into.

              His nephew has a lot of pictures. Some are from Dunnville. My Mosquito pilot was in Dunnville about the same time period early 1942.

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      • He won’t talk about it. He served from 1942-1945. He told me. Somethings must be forgotten. I do understand. My father fought in life and in dreams the Korea war. I hold my weight from the new wars. I like the stories from the old timers. Last month a WW2 Vet at the mall told me how his unit free the death camps. He had tears in his eyes 70 years later.

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  1. Pingback: For D-Day, Two survivors sing a WWII foxhole song … | Pacific Paratrooper

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