Luchterhand to be honored
by Neillsville American Legion


Bob Luchterhand 1943


Rob Luchterhand poses for a photo in 1943 during basic training in North Carolina. 
Luchterhand and the rest of the 3rd Army 391st Anti-Aircraft Battalion were deployed to
England, France and Germany from 1943 to the end of WWII in 1945


By Todd Schmidt


BOB LUCHTERHAND, 92, will soon get some long overdue recognition for his meritorious service in the U. S. Army during WWII.  Luchterhand was decorated with four Battle Stars, the most of any serviceman in the Neillsville area.

Luchterhand will be recognized Monday, Sept. 1, with a meal in his honor at the Neillsville American Legion Club served from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and during the meeting to follow.  The event is open to all members of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.

Future sessions will honor all decorated veterans from WWII.  The intent is to invite members who do not attend regular meetings to come and honor American legion members.  The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary are seeking more participation.

Luchterhand, a lifetime member of Neillsville American Legion Post 73 for over 30 years, sat in the oversized recliner in his Town of Grant home Thursday and reminisced about his life and military service.

He has been as active with the American Legion as his health allows, participating in the Honor Guard for funerals, marching in parades and taking part in various Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs.

Luchterhand is proud of his service in the U. S. Army 3rd Division, 391st Anti-Aircraft Battalion.  He hitched up late in 1942 and served until his honorable discharge Dec. 14, 1945.  His discharge document was recorded Jan. 2, 1946, at the Clark County Register of Deeds office.

His first action was June 5-6, 1944, during the D-Day invasion of France at Normandy Beach.  Over 3,500 of his fellow soldiers were killed that day.

“We hit the beach early in the morning of June 6,” Luchterhand recalled.  “We waded a third of a mile through chest-deep water, facing machine gun fire as we tried to reach the narrow beach.  It was a long stretch, and we couldn’t get our landing barges in.  Destroyers were going back and forth at sea, shelling the pillboxes on the hill and along the beach."

Luchterhand was a heavy machine gunner.  His unit was a portion of Patton’s Army, serving at Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland and in the Battle of the Bulge, after going through basic training at Ft. Sheridan, IL.

His decorations are prominently displayed in a classy frame on the living room wall.  Luchterhand’s honors include the Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon, European/African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon, plus four bronze battle stars, three overseas service bars and a Good Conduct Medal.

Luchterhand was born Jan. 22, 1922, in the Town of Loyal, the son of Alvin and Laura Luchterhand.  He had three brothers, Orville, Gerald and Melvin, and one sister, Lenore.  All his siblings have passed away except Melvin.

Luchterhand’s wife Lenore passed away in 2002.  They had two sons, Kenneth and Thomas, and one daughter Melody.  Luchterhand has one grandson, and two granddaughters and three great-grandchildren.

Luchterhand was brought up on the family farm in the Town of Loyal.  He attended the Spokeville School through eighth grade located a mile north of the farm.

He helped milk 45 head of dairy cattle (using a milking machine), along with doing other chores, including plowing and fieldwork.  The Luchterhand’s raised corn, oats, barley, soybeans and hay on 200 acres, with another 160 acres added after Luchterhand went into the service.

He said 1928 was the roughest year on the farm.  “We only put up two or three loads of hay that whole dry summer,” he said.  “That’s all there was.  We shipped cattle up north so they could live in the woods and eat leaves off the trees."

Luchterhand did not attend high school, abiding by his parents’ wishes to stay and work on the farm until 1942, when he was drafted into the Army.

“I actually enlisted once before then, but dad cancelled out my application,” Luchterhand said with a smile.

Luchterhand said their first boot camp experience at Ft. Sheridan was cleaning out trees and brush during the winter so the Army could build more barracks. Occasionally the troops would go on 40-mile hikes.

“My back gave out,” Luchterhand said.  “I had a bad back when I was drafted.  I don’t know why they even took me."

From Ft. Sheridan, Luchterhand’s unit went on maneuvers in Virginia and North Carolina.  Activities consisted of hiking, camping, target practice on the range and learning how to shoot machine guns at airborne targets.

He came home for a 10-day furlough before the two-week trip overseas.  The vessel was a refurbished ship captured by the Germans in WWI.

“There were 50 or 60 ships in our convoy, including destroyers to keep us safe,” Luchterhand said.  “We landed in southern England, where we stayed for two or three weeks."

Luchterhand volunteered for KP duty on the way over.

“The waves were bad,” he said.  “The potatoes rolled by us, back and forth.  I didn’t really get seasick or scared.  Our bunks were three rows high, and you had to tie yourself in so you wouldn’t roll out. It was a hell of a mess going overseas."

They spent time at the base in England waterproofing trucks and tanks for the D-Day attack.

“We didn’t deploy them at Normandy,” Luchterhand said.  “The water was too deep. One tank made it, and the motor conked out right on the beach.

His unit shot down seven German planes on the second day of the Normandy invasion.

“Finally, no more planes came over,” he recalled.  “I had two 50-caliber machine guns, one on each side.  The guns were mounted on trailers.  There were two guys feeding the guns with bullets on belts.  Every fifth bullet was a tracer.  That was the only way you could line up with a target, because the trajectory curved.  Guys used heavy mitts to change the gun barrels because they got so hot."

The 391st Anti-Aircraft Battalion advanced just past the Rhine River.  German troops skirted around the battle lines, but were captured when their tanks and other vehicles ran out of fuel.

“When we got over the Rhine River, the fog was real bad,” Luchterhand said.  “We couldn’t see more than 15 feet at times.  The snow was two feed deep in many places."

The soldiers slept in large tents, each holding 15-20 men.  Luchterhand said a highlight of going into liberated towns was getting fresh bread at local bakeries.

They reached port in Boston and traveled on a train to Milwaukee for discharge.

After his military service, Luchterhand did town patrol work and picked up and hauled eggs.  He then went back to farming, helping his brother Melvin, who developed tuberculosis.  Luchterhand then bought 160 acres and farmed on his own for 22 years.

He and his wife put up a prefab house in one day.  Luchterhand then began doing home building for Melvin’s Construction.  He also graded township roads.

He was hospitalized a few times with heart trouble.  He also had both knees replaced.   “I was in pretty bad shape there for awhile,” he said.

Luchterhand enjoyed deer hunting and fishing.  He still has a boat in the garage.  He gave up driving a car about six months ago.

He is able to get out of the house with a friend once in a while.  She also helps him with medication management.  Luchterhand said he takes 13 different medications at various times each day.

“Doctors in Marshfield and Neillsville want me to pick a doctor, and I won’t do it,” he said.  “If I have to go to the hospital, they will furnish a doctor for me."

Luchterhand does have Aspirus Home Health Services arranged through the Veterans Administration come by the house two hours per week.

Luchterhand served as a supervisor on the Town of Grant Board for about 10 years, retiring at the age of 89.  A recognition plaque hangs on this living room wall next to his service medals.

“I really feel honored by the Legion for doing this recognition program,” Luchterhand said.  “Otherwise, I like to live a pretty private life.  I watch TV and do a little reading.  I can only read a few hours at a time, because it is hard for me to read the fine print."


Bob Luchterhand, age 92, Town of Grant

Bob Luchterhand, 92, Town of Grant, is a lifetime member of Neillsville American Legion Post 73. 
Luchterhand will be recognized for his meritorious service in the U. S. Army
during a special dinner and program Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, at the Neillsville American Legion Club.

From the Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 20, 2014

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon, August 26, 2014

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, August 27, 2014

Return to Grant Townwhip Community Web Page

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