OUR FATHER THE WWII VETERAN
Mr. Damian Reyes, 94, passed away on December 27, 2017 at 4:11pm at the Terrace of Jacksonville Nursing Home surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Puerto Rico in the country of Bayamon on March 4, 1926. He is the 4th oldest son of 22 siblings. The son of Perfecta Ortiz and Eladio Reyes.
On April 3, 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry from Ft. Buchanan, P.R. He was shipped to Ft. Knox, Kentucky to be placed in the 84th Infantry Division in World War II, the “Railsplitter” division landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy D-Day (June 6, 1944). From France, the unit moved quickly into the Netherlands in preparation for an offensive into Germany. During the Battle of the Bulge, the 84th was diverted to Belgium to stop the German offensive. In March 1945, it moved into the Rhineland and subsequently advanced northward, capturing the city of Hannover on April 10th. The 84th eventually made its way to the Elbe River and made contact with Soviet armed forces in early May 1945. The “Railsplitter” division advanced into the interior of Germany, its troops uncovered Hannover-Ahlem (April 10, 1945) and Salzwedel (April 14, 1945), both satellite camps of the Neuengamme concentration camp. The SS established the Hannover-Ahlem camp on Novermber 30, 1944, after transferring the camp and its inmates from the Continental Gummiwerke factory at Hannover-Stocken. Several days later, the 84th Infantry captured Salzwedel, a camp formed by the SS in July 1944 to supply forced labor for a German munitions factory. The unit found some 3,000 female inmates, mainly Jewish women who had been transported from the Auschwitz camp complex, and several hundred political prisoners. He served in the European Theater of Operations was the fight in the following campaigns, Rhineland and Central Europe. He was Honorable discharged on April 3, 1953. Damian also worked for the United States Merchant Marines until 1985. He lived in the Mandarin community of Jacksonville, FL from 1990 until his passing.
Damian is survived by his wife, Edel Reyes along with 2 Sons, 6 Daughters, 32 Grandchildren, 3 Great grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Damian Reyes passed away Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 . Arrangements in Care of: Funerals by T.S. Warden, 904-765-1234
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