Veterans' Voices: Pasquel Reyes
Veterans’ Voices is directed toward veterans and their
families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your
experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.
Back in 2018 or so, I had the privilege to share a stage with my dear friend, Pasquel Reyes. I met him a few months prior. I found that he was a true war hero, and I will never forget him. He passed away on Dec. 18, 2019, at the age of 96.
Pasquel served our country during WWII in the United States Army, Company A, 142nd infantry, 36th division. He participated in the liberation of Italy, France and fought his way into Belgium and the Rhineland Forrest (on the way to the Battle of the Bulge), where he was captured by the Nazis and transported to a POW camp where he spent the next nine months. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart.
He was married and had four children, 19 grandchildren, 42 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. Pasquel was filled with unconditional love for his Country and his family. His son, Ronald was also in the military in Vietnam in the Marines, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Pasquel and his wife got the unfortunate news that their son paid the ultimate price and was killed in action on March 30, 1968.
Pasquel and I had long discussions, and I remember one story he told me with tears in his eyes.
He said while he was in the POW camp, he and his comrades were given stale water and molded bread to eat, every day. He attempted to make friends with the guards so they would be a little easier on them all. After a few months, some of the guards trusted Pasquel. They would let him out long enough to walk to town and pick up some fresh bread for the guards. He would go daily, after getting money from the guards. He knew there was no place to go. He could not escape.
He would think of ways to bring food back for his comrades in captivity. Pasquel told the guards that the price of bread rose, and he would need some more money. The guards did give him more money. He would purchase cigarettes for the guards, again, to keep that trust. I guess, at that time, cigarettes were like gold to those guards. He also negotiated the price down on the bread. One of the prisoners died due to malnutrition and dehydration. Before the guard removed his body, Pasquel kept his field jacket.
One night, he got a piece of glass and tore little 5-inch patches from that jacket. He sewed those patches to the inside of his field jacket, making small pockets. The next day when he went to purchase bread for the guards, he negotiated prices and got it cheaper. He would cut some of the bread up to fit inside those hidden pockets on the inside of his jacket. That way he had more food for his buddies. Finally, after nine months, they were found and got on a plane back to their own base. He said that they had to give each of them nutmeg to drink so it would not shock their body. After, half of them did not survive.
When he was in the hospital recuperating, he remembered General Patton coming the hospital to greet them and shake their hands. Pasquel remembers looking down each line of beds, seeing all of those wounded soldiers, thinking about their families back home missing them so much.
He told me that General Patton was going to bed, thanking them all. He heard the General was talking to one soldier, asking him where he was wounded. The kid told the General that he wasn’t wounded. He just could not take any more of the fighting. The General slapped him in the face and started screaming at him to get up and get back out there. He wasn’t going to have him laying there while the other soldiers are out there doing their best.
Pasquel remembers seeing tanks in a line buzzing past him, with the General standing up in the middle of one with gunfire shooting right past his head. He said it did not bother General Patton at all.
I told these stories on stage with Pasquel sitting there, in tears. He was a very humble man. We turned around, saluted and cited the Pledge of Allegiance before exiting off stage. I looked down and Pasquel had tears in his eyes. I was thinking what he went through for those nine months, with the constant anticipation of death.
If you look up “True American Hero” in the dictionary, I believe Pasquel Reyes’s name would be in there.
Pasquel, I will see you on the other side. We wish you greatly.
Email me at AboutVets @yahoo.com.
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— Royal D. Goodman, U.S. Army/Vietnam,
1st Cav/9th Infantry