On the afternoon of 6 July 1944, First Lieutenant Ollie William Reed Jr., with his weapons platoon of “F” Company, 363d Infantry, was on the top of a small hill in the mountains southwest of Chianni, Italy. The company had no sooner taken the hill when the enemy laid down an intense barrage of artillery and mortar fire. Ollie was trying to get his men to cover when an artillery shell struck and instantly killed him and several of his men.
When he was killed, Ollie had been commissioned for only 25 months, but he had lived with the Army all of his 25 years as his father was a Regular Army officer. Shortly after his first birthday his mother took him to Germany where his father was stationed with the Army of Occupation. His first serious walking was on the deck of the transport BUFORD, capacity 40 passengers, which took three weeks to reach Antwerp. He returned to the States when he was three years old and, from then until he was fourteen, changes in his father’s duty assignments took him to many parts of the country. In 1933, when duty took his father to Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, Ollie became a cadet there and eventually won an appointment to West Point. Growing up in the Army had taught Ollie to love it, and the appointment to West Point fulfilled a cherished ambition.
A good soldier and dedicated to his profession, Ollie also had many other interests. He was an enthusiastic competitor in all sorts of games and sports, ranging from ping-pong and darts through football and swimming to chess. In the last snapshot he sent to his mother he was setting up horseshoe stakes for his company in Sicily. During his last year at Wentworth Academy he was coach of the high school level football team. He was a musician and loved to play the piano, although at West Point he was limited to a harmonica. Most of all, however, Ollie loved simple family pleasures—vacations with his parents and brother, worshiping together, decorating the family Christmas tree, and just being together in love and understanding. At the time Ollie was at West Point, the cadets were given a ten-week vacation at the end of their second year. In June 1940, when Ollie’s vacation came, his family was living in the Philippines. There were no jet transports then, but Ollie made the long trip to be with them—six days with his parents and brother and six weeks on troop transports.
Ollie did not have much time for a family of his own. After graduation he married Laura Sloman, and they were together during training at Fort Benning and later in Oregon. Ollie Bill was born in January 1944, but Ollie had only a few short months to relish the pleasures of fatherhood, which he did to the fullest. His regiment was ordered east in April, and in a few days was on its way to North Africa. From there Ollie’s journey was swift to Sicily, to Italy, and, finally, to the cemetery in France overlooking the Omaha beachhead,to be buried next to his father.
Source: West Point Association of Graduates