Raymond Hansen Knudsen, Grandfather of museum intern Eamon Adamson, served in the 69th infantry division of the U.S. Army from 1943-1945. He was born in Buffalo Center, Iowa in 1924 eventually moving to New Jersey. He grew up during the Great Depression, which caused him to be very resourceful and creative, one of his trademarks. Drafted in July 1943, following his graduation from high school, Raymond was given the nickname "the Swede" because of his Scandinavian heritage. He was actually Danish but didn't mind "the Swede" nickname.
He originally trained to be a pilot but before finishing his training he was called to serve in the infantry due to immediate need of men. He arrived in South Hampton, England by way of the troop transport ship MS John Ericsson. It was Christmas Day 1944 700 men from his division were sent to the Belgium front helping the German offensive. The German army attacked in mid December 1944 creating a bulge in the American lines. The battle for this area would be called "The Battle of the Bulge."
Raymond arrived in Le Havre, France where 810 replacements brought to re-fortify the division and make ready for combat. He specifically remembered the snow being deep and the wind very cold. His regiment, the 272nd went into action along the Siegfried Line. The troops lived in log-covered dugouts for protection against enemy artillery. Raymond was part of the telephone section, in an interview with Raymond Knudsen, "Our main tasks were to find and repair breaks in wire. Repairing the wire breaks was tough because we had to do so in all kinds of weather and at night. To keep up with the infantry units, we were moving all the time."
He had many stories of "close calls". Among them was a time while driving his jeep, German artillery punctured several cans of juice. Ray remembered the bubbling sound as the juice ran over the floor of the jeep. The shrapnel missed Ray by mere inches.
One other time Ray and his men were surprised by a German tank. The tank fired point blank at Ray and his crew and missed hitting a brick wall instead. For some reason the tank didn't fire again but left. Had that tank tried one more fire the outcome for Raymond could have been very different.
Raymond survived the war to return to his family eventually marrying Mary Ann Shull and having 5 daughters. One of those daughters is Audrey Adamson mother of intern Eamon Adamson. Raymond worked for Bell Telephone Company for many years in New Jersey. He died in 2013 but lived long enough for Eamon to spend time with him and hear first hand some of his stories. Raymond's other trademark was his thankfulness. He never took anything he received for granted. He loved God, family and country. Veteran's Day meant a lot to Raymond and I can't help but remember him on this day.