Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Robert William Patterson. Patterson served as a rifleman during World War II.
Robert William Patterson was born in August 1922 in Chicago to James and Bernice Patterson. He had two siblings, John and Margaret. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and underwent basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Patterson served in Germany and Czechoslovakia as a member of F Company of the 386th Infantry Regiment of the 97th Infantry Division. Initially, the 97th underwent amphibious assault training in preparation for combat in the Pacific Theater, but due to casualties caused by the Battle of the Bulge, the division was reassigned to Germany.
In 1945, while stationed in Bor, Czechoslovakia (currently the Czech Republic), Patterson and his unit sat down to rest and eat. He heard a gunshot while opening a chocolate bar and felt his left hand grow numb. Confused, he stood up to discover what had happened. A fellow soldier, comprehending the situation, made Patterson lie down. He had been shot by a German sniper. The sniper’s bullet had gone through Patterson’s left arm near the elbow and entered his torso. The numbness in his left was due to nerves being hit by the bullet. Medics came and bandaged his wound, and he was evacuated to Germany to undergo an operation in a military hospital to remove his spleen. Patterson was then sent to recover at a hospital in Rheims, France. He received a Purple Heart for his injuries.
After the war, Patterson attended Northwestern University, earning a degree in mechanical engineering in 1947. He joined Sargent & Lundy of Chicago the same year, an engineering and construction consulting company. By 1964, Patterson became a partner at the firm, eventually becoming a senior partner before retiring in 1983 to spend more time with his wife, Rae, and their family.
Patterson died in 2018 at the age of 95. He is buried at the Town of Maine Cemetery in Park Ridge, Illinois. He is remembered by his two children and seven grandchildren.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Jack Patterson
Editors: Annabelle Cotton, Brooke Wolfenbarger
Researchers: Timothy Georgetti, David Charles Deprez
Graphic artist: Philip Levine