MAJOR THOMAS W. REED
It was on the night of March 26, 1945. There was a full moon that night over Germany. Orders were given to the men to advance on the city of Ludwigshafen, Germany. Sergeant Thomas Reed, at the age of 19, was placed in command of the 60mm Mortar Squad of Company A, 301st Infantry, 3rd Platoon. On this night, Sergeant Reed was still recovering from wounds sustained 24 days earlier. He earned a Purple Heart for injuries on March 2, 1945.
At dark, this Platoon of men moved through the chemical factories in the town and was advancing down a street in Ludwigshafen, Germany, aware that German soldiers were known to be nearby. Unknowingly, several of the forward advancing American men went beyond a bunker of German soldiers, where the Germans waited quietly with their machine gun ready to fire. As several of the Americans guided past about 60 yards, the German soldiers then opened fire on the middle group of the advancing American Soldiers. Some American soldiers were killed and the others were quickly pinned down by enemy fire. From his position, Sergeant Reed had a clear and direct site on the enemy location; he assembled his mortar and fired a shell at the flashes of fire coming from the German machine gun. The Germans then turned their machine gun toward the flash of light that came from where the mortar shell was fired. One of the bullets hit a mortar shell that was in the hand of Sergeant Reed, causing it to explode. This explosion caused burns on his wrist, neck, and face. Although wounded, Sergeant Reed continued to fire mortar shells toward the enemy bunker and was able to get six more shells off, with at least one round killing at least one German. Sergeant Reed was still under machine gun fire when a bullet from the German machine gun hit the tube of the mortar, crimping the tube, causing the seventh shell to be jammed. With his mortar inoperative, Sergeant Reed then advanced on the enemy position and killed the one remaining German with a shot from his service pistol at close range. Sergeant Reed then covered the street from the enemy position while his Platoon regrouped and reorganized.