Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.
World War II U.S. Army Heavy Maintenance Co., 103rd ordinance.
Spec. 5 sergeant.
Duties - truck driver for heavy equipment, repairs to Army artillery pieces and large guns, preparing ammunitions, delivering ammunitions, including 105mm, 8-inch 7.75 mortars, land mines, grenades, m-79 grenade, machine gun ammunitions, m-1 rounds, tracers and white phosphorus rounds.
Ordinance Army - A unit designated to handle, deliver and repair any Army weapons used in combat situations. Its main duties are to confirm, when requested, that supplies are delivered to front line units and areas of supporting units. Working on heavy equipment used for long range targets, understanding how to set time charges and delays for artillery pieces, when needed handle, transport and deliver gas launching equipment to areas of demand.
Tactical Area of Responsibility - Central Europe, the Rhineland, Eastern France and Germany.
Medals and awards - World War II victory medal, Eastern Europe campaign medal, Good conduct Army of occupation medal, the Bronze star.
Married on Dec. 28, 1944 to Burdella E. Palmatier. The wedding took place when Warner completed his basic training and was home on leave holding orders to report for action in the European Theater.
Raymond Donald Warner Jr. was born May 28, 1925, in Silver Creek. The son of Raymond Sr. and Edna (Dean) the family lived in the Silver Creek area. While a young boy, Raymond would watch his father leave for work each morning as a truck driver and delivery man.
Later, his father worked on the Shuttleworth farm before managing a large grape farm for William Burricher.
Raymond's mother, as most mothers in those days, held the title of mother first and homemaker second. As Raymond grew older his mother took a position at Dunkirk's Marsh Valve company on Brigham Road in Dunkirk. Her job consisted of making sand molds that were used in making brass valves.
Raymond and his brother Dean would help out around the house whenever they could. The family suffered a tragic loss when they lost their first son, Howard. He was a brother Raymond never met.
School came and Raymond attended all the local schools. He became close friends with Virgil Snyder.
The two were close and got together whenever time allowed. Much time was taken for work. The two never got into trouble. Being brought up right meant you knew right from wrong. Trouble wasn't in the Warner vocabulary.
With times tough and many places needing men to work because the U.S. was now at war, Warner decided that he would leave school and do what he could do to help his family. With only one year left to receive his high school diploma Warner he knew that some day he would receive that diploma, but work and helping his family came first. In later years, Warner was able to receive his graduate equivalent diploma.
In August 1944, when his classmates were finishing their summer vacation and getting ready for their senior year, he was inducted in the United States Army. Fully knowing that he could have easily attended his last year and be deferred, Warner wanted to serve his country and do whatever he could to help his country win the war. At the time he was entering the service, there was no clear end in sight. This war could last for years. The war in Europe was starting to see the Allied forces were now advancing toward Rhineland in Germany.
Receiving orders to the 103rd Ordinance Heavy Maintenance Company meant one thing, Warner would not be assigned to a stateside military base. The Allied forces had landed in Normandy and now vital equipment and support would be needed for our advancing troops. The closer forces got to the German border, the more equipment and supplies would be needed.
As part of the advance to the Rhineland, Warner drove a truck that supported heavy Army artillery pieces, mainly tanks. The weather was bitter, as temperatures fell below zero many nights. The roads he traveled also were full of land mines. And, with heavy ammunition in tow, German snipers were always a fear.
It was early April 1945 when Raymond's company was stopped about 12 miles from the Berlin border and orders came down to stop and advance no more. Many questioned why stop after coming so far and being so close.
The command came from Army five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He said the Russian army would lead the first assault on Berlin. Warner and his entire company were in disbelief. After all the hard work, miles of continual fighting and dealing with the spring weather of Germany that provided countless mud routes, the American Army was to stop and watch the end of the German rule.
NEXT WEEK: Part two.