Raymond E. Reitze Sr., 93

Raymond Reitze Sr.

Raymond Reitze Sr.

BUXTON — Raymond Eli Reitze, 93, passed peacefully Saturday, June 6, 2015 at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough.

He was born in Carnegie, Penn., the son of Alfred Gustav Reitze and Vesta Mains Reitze.

He worked at CCC Camps in Bridgton for three years then joined the Army in 1940, and was discharged in August of 1945. On Aug. 6, 1942, as a member of the II Corps, 2nd U.S. Army Field Artillery, Ray boarded a ship in Norfolk, Va. arriving in England. After training, Ray boarded one of two armadas, which would carry more than 100,000 troops to invasion beaches. The fleet Ray was in sailed 2,800 miles from Britain to Algeria for Operation Torch. On Nov. 8, 1942, the men hit the beaches in Oran. He fought battles in Berserta, Tunis, Faid Pass, Sidi bou Zid and on Sunday, Feb. 14, 1943, what was left of II Corp fought and was captured at Kasserine Pass, North Africa by Rommel and his troops, beginning his 26 months as an American P.O.W.

The POWs were flown on Junker planes to Italy, then were boarded on boxcars arriving at Stalag VII A, eventually to be transported again to Stalag V B, and finally to Stalag II B in Poland, where they would work as slave laborers in Stettine and at Stolp Pomerazevarious.

While in Stalag II B, Ray and three other prisoners were made to dig trenches and lay cables for what was to be a gas chamber. Taking turns watching the guards, each man would jump into the trenches breaking the cables with their shovels and cover them with dirt before being caught. This resulted in one less gas chamber firing up which resulted in saving thousands of lives.

On Jan. 29, 1945, Ray began the 500-mile German Death March starting at Stolp Pomerazevarious, Poland and ending on March 19, 1945 in Haganow, Germany, where he was liberated and freed back to the American government. Of the 1,200 men that started the march, only 200 survived. After surviving 26 months as a POW, Ray weighed 87 pounds upon liberation.

When he returned home, he and his wife raised their family of six in Buxton. He worked at the Portland Gas Light Co. Ray was an active member of the Buxton Grange, the American Prisoners of Foreign War, and the Westbrook VFW. He attended the First Baptist Church of Westbrook and Buxton Community Church and was well known for his political interests.

Surviving are his two sons, Raymond Jr. of Canaan and Charles of Millinocket; four daughters, Kathleen Lewia of Norridgewock, Mary Osmond of Casco, Susan McKinley of Gorham and Judith Peverada of Portland; 14 grandchildren; many great-great grandchildren; and one sister, Shirley York.

He was predeceased by his wife of 51 years, Mary J. (Geyer) Reitze, two sisters and a brother.

Visiting hours were held at Dolby & Dorr Funeral Chapel, 76 State Street, Gorham from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 10. A funeral was held at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 415 Route 1, Scarborough. Burial followed at Highland Memorial Cemetery, Highland Avenue, South Portland. Online condolences may be sent to www.dolbyfuneralchapels.com

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his memory to: Maine Veterans’ Home, 290 US Route 1, Scarborough, ME.

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