Not Forgotten: WWII MIA Comes Home to North Olmsted

World War II MIA George ‘Bud’ Reuter, killed in action on Aug. 1 1943 near Polesta, Romania,is coming home to North Olmsted where he will be finally laid to rest near his parents on Saturday, July 29th, 2023 at 1:00 PM at Sunset Memorial Park, 6265 Columbia Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070, with full Military Honors.

The community is welcome and encouraged to attend in honoring this World War II Veteran.

George “Bud” Reuter, June 21, 1918 – August 1, 1943, 1st Lieutenant Army Air Corps

George “Bud” Julius Reuter, 25, was killed in action on August 1st, 1943, near Ploiesti, Romania.

Bud was born June 21, 1918 in Harrison, Indiana, to the late John George and Elizabeth Theodocia (Johns) Reuter. His parents were married on June 6, 1915 in Harrison, Indiana.

Bud was enrolled in college when World War II broke out. Bud had a photographic memory and was an excellent student, hoping for a future career in engineering. Wanting to serve his country, he joined the Army Air Corps. His father John worked at NACA (now NASA) as an engineer and Bud wanted to follow in his footsteps.

After returning from basic training, Bud did not have an optimistic view of his upcoming time in the service. He did enjoy playing poker and was known for his ability to count the cards.

B-24 Liberator aircraft of the 93rd Bombardment Heavy Group

The 26th Mission

The 93rd Bombardment Heavy Group was sent on temporary assignment to North Africa. Half of his fellow crewmates had flown their 25 combat missions and this included Bud. The experienced bombardiers and navigators were needed for another assignment, so Bud was recruited for Operation Tidal Wave, regardless of meeting his 25 mission mark.

Bud and two crewmates were flying on a new aircraft called “Hell’s Wench”, a B-24 plane. 177 B-24’s of the 9th Air Force Bomber Command were dispatched for Operation Tidal Wave to bomb oil refineries at Ploiesti and nearby Capina. The operation was costly, 54 planes and 532 airmen being lost, but the damage to the targets was severe. The B-24 Liberators flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 planes, 167 managed to attack their targets. The command pilot flew over what he thought was Romanian Oil Refineries, but was actually the capital city. The lead aircraft turned south heading for Bucharest instead of north to Ploiesti.

A Heroic Turn

Warned over the intercom that they had taken a dangerously wrong turn, the other air crafts including Bud’s, broke formation to continue their mission and bomb their targets. On approach to the refinery areas, Hell’s Wench took two devastating direct flak hits, hitting both wings.

The aircraft was leaking large amounts of fuel and quickly became engulfed in flames. Before going down, they tried to gain altitude so their crewman could have some chance to bail out and live.

Despite their attempt, the aircraft lost speed in the climb, stalled, rolled over, crashed, and exploded, killing everyone aboard. A total of ten men were killed.

Five Medals of Honor were awarded for the Ploiesti raid. All five groups that took part of the mission received Presidential Unit Citations.

Bud was also awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal for conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy while serving with the 9th Air Force in the European Theater of Operations. His commendations include the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign.

MIAs Discovered

On January 10, 2023, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified the missing remains of First Lieutenant George Julius Reuter. Many airmen were interred by Romanian citizens into the Bolovan Cemetery in Ploiesti. During the postwar operations, the American Graves Registration Command exhumed unknown remains, eventually reinterring those that could not be identified.

First Lieutenant Reuter is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery in Impruneta, Italy.

In addition to his parents, Bud was joined in Heaven by his siblings, Almeda Lucy Reuter in 1995, SGT. William “Bill’ Ronald (Marilyn) Reuter in 1969, Robert “Bob” Donald (Alice) Reuther in 1979, and Evelyn (Walter) Drummond.

Bud will be finally laid to rest near his parents on Saturday, July 29th, 2023 at 1:00 PM at Sunset Memorial Park, 6265 Columbia Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070, with full Military Honors. The community is welcome and encouraged to attend in honoring this World War II Veteran.

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