Lumberton World War II Veteran Bio – Lester Trauth Senior, D-Day Survivor

Southeast Texas Veteran Biographies

Lester Trauth: D-Day Survivor

On SETX Seniors, one of our favorite focus areas is interviewing Southeast Texas veterans to preserve their stories and contributions to our way of life.

In our magazine the SETX Seniors Resource Guide, each edition features an interview with an SETX WWII Veteran.

We call the series, “Last of the Greatest” as a reference to these men and women being named “The Greatest Generation.

Our SETX Seniors “Last of the Greatest” series this edition honors Lumberton World War II veteran Lester Trauth Sr.

Today, Lester is one of those likeable mature men who you see having animated conversations with waitresses, store clerks, and
strangers he comes across on road trips – a fun, gentleman who makes you feel better at the end of your conversation.

His World War II experience was a real life “Saving Private Ryan”.

Lester is a part of what today is a VERY small fraternity – D-Day Survivors.

Lester’s story is the story of the American infantryman during WWII in Europe.

He landed on the beach at D-Day and served through the entire war walking through most of Western Europe along the way.

Lester Trauth (pronounced Trout) Sr. enlisted in the US Army in August of 1943 in Louisiana. He was told he was significantly underweight for the US armed forces, but a recruiter bent the rules saying, “Oh heck, let him join the Army – we’ll fatten him up”.

After training, Trauth boarded the HMS Strathmore, a premier British luxury for a very quick five day Atlantic crossing from Boston to Glasgow Scotland.

Lester’s time in England was brief – Trauth was part of the D-Day invasion, landing at Utah Beach.

During the hedge fighting in France, one of his companions was bothered by not being able to see. Unable to stand it any longer, he darted up to get a look and was shot in the head by a German sniper. In one of the freak coincidences of war, the bullet grazed his entire scalp digging a furrow into the top of his head without killing or even seriously injuring him. It scared him deeply though, after that he decided he, “Didn’t care if he could see anything or not”.

Lester spent time in a war hospital in Nancy, France when his ribs were shattered by shrapnel from a German artillery shell. While his ribs were broken, Trauth did not receive a Purple Heart. At the time the designation was “shed blood” and the injury broke his ribs without breaking the skin. Ironically Lester did shed blood when the army doctor ripped a great deal of skin off removing his bandages.

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This injury wasn’t Trauth’s only brush with death, or with German artillery.

In one incident, he’d taken off his large army overcoat that he dubbed his “horse blanket” and wrapped it up tightly and packed it in his backpack. A German mortar shell exploded and a shrapnel fragment tore through Lester’s backpack, mess kit, an extra pair of socks, the field radio batteries, his emergency MREs (including a Hershey bar) and halfway through his folded overcoast- all at the center of his backpack. If he had been carrying one less item, the shrapnel would have shattered his spine.

In another instance, German shrapnel broke the stock on his M1 rifle.

A particularly odd event happened to Lester near the end of the war.

Trauth was standing on one side of the river alone about to take a swim when a much larger group of Germans showed up on the other side with their hands up waiting to take prisoner, “I didn’t even have a way to get to them. It was the funniest thing ever. They wanted to surrender and I couldn’t get to them. If they wanted to, they could have just walked away and disappeared. I couldn’t have done anything to them. They didn’t want to walk away though. They were through with the war. They’d had all they wanted.”

Lester was able to commandeer a French boat and ferry the Germans back to the American side of the river for surrender.

When he got the Germans to the American side of the river, he found that he had an older artillery officer with a bunch of veWorld War II stories Beaumont Tx Veteransry young (13-17) and very old (over 50) German soldiers.

He asked why they wanted to surrender and the German officer said, “We are running low on supplies and you started shooting at us with some kind of fully automatic artillery. We don’t have anything to compete with that.”

What Lester and the Americans knew was that there was no “fully automatic artillery”, but the Americans had so many field guns firing in waves that it sounded like it must be some new high speed artillery t the Germans.

After the liberation of Paris, Trauth transitioned from the infantry to service with the  Military Police.

As an MP, Lester Trauth found himself assigned to Heidelberg Germany, his ancestral home. His family had come full circle.

In 1844, Trauth’s family left Heidelberg for the United States in search of a better life.

In 1944, one hundred years later Trauth had returned from America to give Europeans a better life.

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At the end of the war, Trauth was a US Army corporal.

He was awarded four battle stars and the combat infantry badge.

Trauth has been a member of the American Legion for 66 years with Post 222 out of Marrero LA.

He has been a member of the VFW for over 50 years with Post 7307, also in Marrero.

Lester was honored in 2014 at an American Legion Conference and at a Southeast Texas D-Day Memorial event.

Lester Trauth is proud of his son Lester Trauth Jr. who served in the Air Force on Guam during Vietnam.

World War II Veteran Biography Beaumont Tx

Spending a few minutes with Trauth reinforces all of our ideas of what World War II was about.

Young American men were given a rare opportunity to make a real difference on the World Stage.

Men were taken from farms and small towns and American cities and were thrust into an environment that would make them heroes, legends.

A big SETX Seniors thank-you to Lester Trauth for his service to our nation.

We greatly enjoyed the time Trauth spent with us and are excited to profile him in our “Last of the Greatest” series featuring veterans of WWII.

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s “Last of the Greatest” interview with Southeast Texas WWII veteran Lester Trauth Sr.

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World War II Veteran Biography Texas

  • Daryl Fant, Publisher Senior Resource Guide

  • (512) 567-8068


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