Earl D. Reese - 395th Infantry Regiment, E Company
Born and raised in rural Arkansas in the early 1920s, Earl Denzil Reese quickly became accustomed to hunting and shooting, hard labor and outdoor life.
Earl was born in 1920 to a recently-returned WWI veteran and a Missouri farmgirl and spent his early life traveling around the country with his family working odd jobs to make ends meet. Earl was working at Lockheed Martin inspecting aircraft components when he learned of Pearl Harbor and the President's declaration of war.
Although he was initially considered exempt by the draft board, he was eventually selected for service and was ordered to report for duty on June 26th, 1944. After stateside training at a variety of bases, Earl was shipped overseas and landed in a replacement depot.
He was quickly assigned to Company E, 395th Infantry Regiment, 99th Division. The unit had been hit hard during the early days of the Battle of the Bulge and Earl was selected to fill a slot in a mortar squad. Earl was now a mortar gunner with the 99th Division!
Earl left an extensive series of memoirs in which he recounts many of his combat experiences. He also snapped dozens of front line photos documenting his travels across battlefield Europe. One series of photos shows a captured German convoy in the Ruhr Pocket.
Here Earl describes the moment:
"On the 13th we moved on trucks to reach the line of departure but then passed it and went beyond. We remained in the trucks and accidentally overran a German convoy. The entire convoy surrendered and came in on its own power in its own vehicles. We rode beyond the German convoy about twenty miles…..”
Another riveting snapshot shows members of Earl’s company covering from fire during an attempted crossing of the Danube. And again, Earl describes the moment in his memoirs:
(April 24th, at 4:00 a.m we left on trucks and rode about ten miles and walked and ran about five miles under heavy shelling to the Danube River. The banks of the river were high above the water and very steep. Every short distance along the banks there was a slope to the water and a place where we could cross in a boat…… .. the Germans had the slopes zeroed in and fired in the same location through all the smoke. We were constantly pinned down and dug in. Many of our men were wounded or killed. “
Earls experiences with the 99th are not uncommon, but his frontline snapshots provide an incredible glimpse into the gritty life of a combat infantryman. Earl's war ended on May 9th, 1945 as he celebrated VE Day with his buddies in the German town of Ostheim, but his memoirs and incredible snapshots remain
Here you find a selection of some more of his snapshots. For more information please visit this great blog about military photography,http://portraitsofwar.wordpress.com, made by Brennan Gauthier who is also the owner of these incredible snapshots made by Earl.