Harmes, Monroe G. (817th)

Monroe G. Hames 1Monroe G. Harmes

Biography: Monroe George Harmes was born on September 23, 1922, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He was the son of Monroe B. Harmes and Margaret Gerz and attended local schools through the 7th grade. After leaving school, he found work at the Lancaster Foundry and Casting Company. Since his father’s name was also Monroe, he actually went by George or Junior.

Service Time: George entered the service on January 7, 1943, at Harrisburg, PA. He was assigned to C Company of the 817th Tank Destroyer Battalion. George attended the Quartermaster cooking school, for 8 weeks, which focused his military duties on feeding his company. By the end of the war, he was being utilized by Headquarters Company and is listed on their roster. When George joined the unit, they had already converted to a towed battalion as of June 1943. They shipped out from the Boston port on July 24, 1944, and arrived at Greenock, Scotland, on July 31. About a month later, on August 25, they landed at Utah Beach and took up rear-area security duties in France and Belgium, guarding the COMZ (Communication Zone) from August to November, 1944.

They entered battle in the Hürtgen Forest with the 8th Infantry Division on December 9 and shifted to the Ardennes in February, 1945. Traveling back to the Roer River sector to fire as artillery, they participated in the advance to the Rhine River with the cavalry. Crossing the river at Remagen on March 15, they were the only towed TD battalion to enter the bridgehead. On March 26, they began conversion to M18’s and then joined the 104th Infantry Division at the Ruhr Pocket in April. Two companies of the 817th joined the drive eastward from Marburg in mid-April, fighting in the Harz Mountains. They helped capture Halle and advanced to the Mulde River where offensive operations ceased.

The 817th received credit for campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. George received the American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, EAME Medal and the Good Conduct medal. He left the service in March 17, 1946, at Fort Dix, New Jersey, at the rank of Private First Class.

Honorable Discharge

George returned to the U.S. and took up a career in carpentry, joining the Carpenters Union, and was hired to work at a number of the area power plants, including Peach Bottom, Safe Harbor and the now famous TMI (Three Mile Island), located near Middletown, PA. The TMI facility was the location of America’s worst nuclear disaster, occurring on March 28, 1979. George married the former Katherine E. Kuster who was born in Lancaster. She was the daughter of John and Mary Kuster. The new couple had six children, Carol, George, Ken, Chris, Ted and Joel.

In his spare time, George loved to listen to the Phillies baseball team on the radio. George passed away on April 26, 1996.  I want to thank George’s grandson, Austin, for providing the information and photo used in this tribute.