Harold Meyer, 89, with his service medals. He has a Purple Heart that he received for an injury he sustained during the Battle of the Bulge, but he doesn t remember what the exact injury was. (Cherry Rushin)
Harold Meyer with his army buddy Leondard Burke. The two served in the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion in World War Two and paved the way for Patton throughout the European campaign. On their helmets are dice showing lucky number seven. The engineers removed the white decoration to better conceal themselves at night. (Courtesy photo)
Not many can say they literally paved the road to freedom, but one Graham World War II vet can.
Harold Meyer, 89, served from 1943 to 1945 in the 300th Engineer Combat Battalion. The group built roads and bridges throughout Europe, creating the infrastructure for the attack.
Meyer was not quite 20 years old when he was drafted in San Antonio. He was assigned to the engineers and trained at Camp White, Ore. He went from Oregon to New York and took the Queen Mary to Scotland. They were trained in England to build the Bailey bridge, among other things. Meyer was a demolition specialist.
They landed on Utah Beach in Normandy June 16. The engineer’s first job was to lay a minefield at Carentan.
After laying the mines, Meyer, three other engineers and a lieutenant were mapping them for removal and afterward encountered a sniper in a nearby tree.
Their next stop was to build a bridge. The battalion’s major was shot and killed during the job, so the bridge was named the Tucker Bridge after him. Meyer said the bridge still stands today.
The men built more roads and bridges and would also tear down some of the bridges they built. They used trucks and heavy machinery.
At times the engineers had to construct in stealth, working quietly and at night. The prefabricated trestle parts were trucked in close to where the bridge would be built; then, the crew would pack it in to the site.
The engineers weren’t assigned to just one army during their time in Europe, but more than once, they were assigned to Patton’s Third Army.
Meyer was impressed by Patton and remembers when his friend received kudos from the general on the engineers’ work.
In Germany, Meyer helped in liberating two concentration camps.
He said there were 250 to 300 people in the camps he saw.
After victory in Europe, Meyer came home. While in service, Meyer received the Meritorious Service Medal and a Purple Heart. He was injured during the Battle of the Bulge, but he doesn’t recall what the injury was.
He moved to Pecos a few years after his return to Texas and lived there 50 years. He owned a successful electrical and cabinet shop during much of that time.
Meyer moved to Graham nine years ago to be near his daughter. Since moving here, he has provided electrician services for four Habitat for Humanity homes.
A service honoring Young County veterans is set for 10 a.m. this Independence Day at the Courthouse Gazebo. The American Volunteer Reserve will recognize military men and women, past and present, for their service.
To read the complete story, see the July 3 edition of The Graham Leader