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Reuter Raymond “Ray” F

Raymond “Ray” F  Reuter
Serial Number:
503rd Fighter Squadron, 339th Fighter Group
Date of Death:
Lorraine American Cemetery, Saint-Avold, Departement de la Moselle, France
Air Medal with 8 oak leaf clusters (1 silver, 3 bronze); Distinguished Flyi

Ray Reuter was born in 1917 in Union, Oregon. He was the Squadron Commander of the 503rd Fighter Squadron, 339th Figther Group based out of F-378 (Fowlmere Airbase in England). In September 1944 he bailed out of a damaged aircraft and was able to evade the enemy back to friendly lines. On April 17, 1944 he was flying with his squadron to strafe airfields in the present day Czech Republic. He wingman was William Preddy, brother of the famous P-51 Ace, George Preddy. Captain Raymond Reuter P-51D (44-72485) flying with his wingman, William Preddy in his P-51D “Rusty” (44-11623) flying out of airbase F-378 (Fowlmere Airbase) to strafe enemy airfields in the Czech Republic. The Preddy Memorial Foundation tells the rest of the story: William Preddy and his Commanding Officer, Captain Raymond Reuter were on a strafing mission with their squadron, the 503rd Fighter Squadron of the 339th Fighter Group “The Cheques” based out of Air Station F-378 (Fowlmere). Over what is now the Czech Republic, Preddy and Reuter gave chase to two Me- 262 jets after strafing airfields at Klatovy and Eisendorf. Although the Me 262 is much faster than the Mustang by about 100 mph, on some occasions the Mustangs were successful in catching the short range Me-262s in their landing pattern. However, apparently they did not catch the 262s ; their chase led them to Ceske Budejovice –– about 75 miles south of Prague –– where they decided to make one last strafing run before going home. Both were shot down by enemy ground fire. Reuter’s aircraft exploded when hit (Near Boršov nad Vltavou). Preddy crash-landed at a small village (Zaluzi) where he was rescued by a Czech citizen, Jan Smejkal. Jan took him about five kilometers in a horse-drawn cart to a German emergency treatment center where he was given first aid only. We were told by Jan Smejkal that Bill never regained consciousness. The German doctors refused to take Bill to the hospital in Ceske Budejovice. So, Jan took him 10 more kilometers to the hospital where he died, probably on the 18th. He was buried on the 19th in a cemetery near the hospital. Later, his body was moved to the Lorraine American Cemetery near St. Avold, France and buried next to his brother George Preddy (Commander of the 328th Fighter Squadron; 352nd Fighter Group).