Lauer, Walter Ernst. born, 20-06-1893 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Albert and Anna Rehlmeyer Lauer. He attended Cornell University for one year in 1917, where he joined the Rotc. He enlisted in U.S. Army Reserves on 15-08-1917 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in I Company, 49th Infantry Division . He was commissioned in the regular army on 26-10-1917 at age 24 on 05-06-1917. He attended the School of Small Arms from 1917 to 1918. He married Lily Grace Hunter of East Hampton on 09-06-1918, and they had two children, Helen Ivy Bohin and Hunter Lauer.
Lauer had five brothers. His brother Alexander commented, “There were five boys in our family, and with the exception of Walter, we were all doctors or pharmacists.” Lauer also had two sisters, Mrs. Ernst Schaefer, a New Rochelle pharmacist, and Mrs. H. R. Evans of Brooklyn.
He served overseas in the First Army as adjutant in 3rd Corp Schools and received a temporary promotion to 1st Lieutenant in the 1st Infantry Division on 17-06-1918.
He was assigned to occupation duty at Coblentz after World War I ended and remained in Europe for four years. Lauer was promoted to Captain on 01-07-1920. While in Germany his daughter, Helen Ivy Louer, was born in July 1921. Upon return to the United States, Lauer assumed command of the Organized Reserves in where he served in Reading, Pennsylvania from 1923 to 1926. He attended the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia from 15-09-1926 to 28-05-1927.
General Lauer was then assigned to the University of Vermont as Assistant Professor of Military Science and Tactics from 1927 until 1930 when his son Hunter Lauer was born on 11-01-1928. Between World War I and II, Lauer attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
He then served as G-3 and Brigade Executive Officer in the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Fort Francis E Warren, Wyoming, from 1930 to 1935. On 01-08-1935, he was promoted to Major. During the scholastic year 1936–37. He was Professor of Military Science and Tactics at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin. Moving to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he attended the Command and General Staff School, graduating on 20-06-1938. From 1939 through 1940, he served first with the 30th Infantry Division at the Presidio of San Francisco, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. on 18-08-1940 and later at Fort Lewis, Washington, he was appointed G-4 of the 3rd Infantry Division, nicknamed “Marne Division” under Major General Charles Fullington Thompson . During the war, 4.922 were killed in action, and 18.766 wounded with a further 636 who died of wounds.
On 24-12-1941, he was promoted to Colonel and appointed Chief of Staff of the 3rd Infantry division, and he took part in planning and leading the 3rd Division’s amphibious training and worked out special equipment and special operating procedures for the amphibious operations. He was Chief of Staff when the 3rd ID landed atFedala during Operation Brushwood on 08-11-1942, and helped capture Casablanca in the opening stages of the North African campaign. When his unit performed so well at Casablanca, General Lauer was promoted to Brigadier General on 03-02-1943. He was reassigned as the Assistant Division Commander of the 93rd Infantry Division an African-American division at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. “It’s hard to leave one’s friends in a combat zone,” he said, “especially when you are not permitted to share In their troubles and pleasures.” On 02-08-1943, he was given command of the 99th Infantry Division, nickname “Battle Babies” .
General Lauer was promoted to the grade of Major General on 15-01-1944. He took the 99th Infantry Division to England on 10-10-1944 and arrived with his troops on the mainland of Europe on 04-11-1944. They were moved rapidly into the front line on 11-11-1944, just 35 days before the German winter offensive of 1944 hit the 99th. The 99th was assigned to hold a 22 miles (35 km) long front.
The green 99th ID faced a German force that during the Battle of the Bulge on the northern shoulder at Elsenborn Ridge was judged to be 5 to 15 times greater in size. Their widely-spaced, untested troops managed to hold the north shoulder of that Bulge, substantially delaying the German time table and helping to turn the tide of the last German offensive of World War II. The determined effort and short time in front line combat led to UP correspondent John McDermott nicknaming the 99th as the “Battle Babies.” Lauer later wrote a book about the division’s actions in World War II which he titled, “Battle Babies: the Story of the 99th Infantry Division in World War II,” which was first published in 1951.” During the Battle of the Bulge the green troops of the 99th, along with the battle-tested 2nd Infantry Divisio, held a key sector controlling access to Spa and Leige and large repositories of ammunition, fuel, and supplies. Despite being outnumbered by German forces at least 5 to 1, during the Battle, they did not yield. It was the only sector of the American front lines during the German offensive where the Germans failed to advance. The 99th casualties during the war 99th, killed 1.130, wounded 3.954, missing 421, captured 598, total casualties 11.987. After the war ended, he was commanding general of the 66th Infantry Division, nickname “Black Panther Division” from August to October 1945; The division had killed 804, wounded 268, missing 7 and captured 19 during their campaign. The 80th Infantry Division, “Blue ridge” from October to December, 1945, their casualties, total battle casualties: 17.087 and total deaths in battle: 3. 500 ; and the 66th Infantry division again from December 1945 to its deactivation on October 1946; all in the European Theater of Operations. During its advance into central Germany, the 80th Infantry Division liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp on April 12, 1945,
Death and burial ground of Lauer, Walter Ernst.
General Lauer retired from military service on 31-03-1946, but remained in Europe to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration until early 1947.
He returned to the U.S. and moved to Monterey, California near Fort Ord, the successor to Gigling Reservation, which he helped found and build in 1941 and 1942. Louer had an open door policy to anyone who wanted to drop by at 3:00 on any afternoon to pass the time and say hello. Walter Lauer died of cancer on 13-10-1966, at the Fort Ord Army Hospital. He was buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery near San Francisco on 15-10-1966. He requested that he be buried in a plain pine box, like any other soldier, which was honored. On 16-02-1974, his wife of 48 years was buried beside him in Section H.
Cemetery location of Lauer, Walter Ernst.