Harold R. Austin, Jr.
Biography: Harold Robert Austin Jr. was born on December 5, 1919, in New York City, New York. He was the son of Harold Robert Austin Sr. and Maud Louisa Nantz and attended Elijah D. Clark Junior High and the New York High School of Printing. He graduated in 1938, and then worked as an apprentice at the Bronx Home News. Harold took a course in radio at the Harlem Evening Trade School and then started his own amateur radio station, call letters W2KTW.
Service Time: Harold entered the service on November 5, 1941, at Camp Upton, Long Island, New York. Before he even put on a uniform, he was promoted to “Acting Corporal” and put in charge of the 10 other local men that went into the service with him.
Due to his experience with radio, he was initially assigned to the radio branch of the field artillery. Harold was eventually assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 628th Tank Destroyer Battalion. While on leave from his training, on June 4, 1942, he married the former Regina Glassheim, who was born in Dumont, New Jersey, and was the daughter of Joseph Glassheim and Hanna Lehrhoff. The couple was married in Rapides Parish, Alexandria, Louisiana.
Harold returned to the unit, which shipped out from the New York port of embarkation on January 29, 1944, on the Aquitania. They arrived at Greenock, Scotland, on February, 6th and after some final training and preparations, they boarded transports and disembarked at Utah Beach on July 30th, equipped with M10s. They were committed to battle on August 2nd near Perier, France. They participated in the envelopment of the Falaise Pocket and then dashed east to the Belgian border, arriving on September 2nd.
The 628th helped liberate Luxembourg and began the assault on the Siegfried Line on September 13th. They conducted artillery missions in October and converted to M36 tank destroyers in November before being committed to fighting in the Hürtgen Forest in December. They shifted to the Aachen sector on December 8th, only to be ordered to the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. They fought to eliminate the Bulge in January, 1945, and crossed the Roer River beginning February 25th, reaching the Rhine River on March 10th. The unit crossed the Rhine on March 31st, at Wesel, and slashed through Germany to the Elbe River by April 11th. They then attacked back west to eliminate the German pockets that had been bypassed, finally taking up occupation duties starting on April 26th near Peine, Germany. Harold left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade. He was presented a certificate in recognition of his outstanding performance of duty.
Harold returned to Regina and the couple made their residence in in Dumont, New Jersey. The couple had two children, a daughter Carol, who was born in 1944, while Harold was still overseas and a son Kenneth, born in 1947. Harold found work with the New York Post as the assistant foremen in the composing room. In his spare time, he enjoyed amateur radio, playing the organ, fishing, gardening. raising orchids and listening to records.
Harold passed away on April 3, 1987, and was buried in the George Washington Memorial Cemetery in Paramus, NJ. I want to thank Harold’s son, Ken, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.