On October 16th the Manchester,
Tennessee Veterans of Foreign Wars
All-American Post 10904 celebrated the 97th birthday of a local living
legend: WWII combat veteran and former prisoner of war Ed Reader, Sr.
The surprise celebration included
reading the long list of accomplishments
he has made to the local VFW Post in the past few years, all while in his
90’s. Post Commander Kim King noted that the influence and devotion that Ed
displays for the Post and our community set a standard of excellence to
which we should all aspire. If VFW holds a meeting or event, Ed Reader is
there. He continues his lifetime of service as Post Trustee.
In attendance were Coffee County Mayor
Gary Cordell, who thanked Ed for his
contributions to Coffee County and the nation; Bob Brinkmann, Commander of
American Legion Gold Post 78; Janice Lynn Bass, who presented Ed with a
Patriotic quilt from the Quilts of Valor Foundation; Westwood Middle School
Assistant Principal Jim Dobson, who presented Ed with a beautiful poster
painting done by middle school students in honor of Ed’s 97th birthday.
Ed Reader, Sr, was born October 18, 1923
in Rome, New York. He enlisted in
the Army Air Corps on June 30th, 1942 and quickly earned his Aerial Gunner’s
Wings as a Waist/Door Gunner aboard B-17 Flying Fortress bombers.
On May 18th, 1944, Ed was on his 23rd
combat bombing mission over enemy
territory, flying in formation with 34 other B-17s. Their mission that day
was to destroy the Romano Americano Oil Refinery, in Ploesti, Romania in an
effort to reduce Axis oil production, which was critical at that point in
The formation was attacked by 100 enemy fighters. Ed recalls that one of
the German Luftwaffe fighter planes came so close that he could see the
His bomber came under blistering attack: Ed was shot in the right shoulder
by a 22mm bullet, which traveled down his arm and stopped just above his
elbow. The bomber’s left-wing engines caught fire and the crew was forced to
bail out. Ed, desperately deploying and guiding his parachute with his left
arm, watched his ship plummet to the ground in flames. Upon reaching the
ground, he and his fellow crewmembers were immediately captured by German
The enemy carried Ed to a makeshift hospital where the bullet was drilled
and extracted from his arm with no anesthesia or pain medications. He
remained a prisoner of war until October 23, 1944.
For the heroism and determination displayed by Ed Reader, his crewmates and
the other bomber crews during that vital mission, the 463rd Bombardment
Group, to which Ed was assigned, received the Distinguished Unit Citation,
later called the Presidential Unit Citation.
After his military service, Ed enjoyed a career in banking. He continues to
serve his fellow veterans, and his community, in any capacity he can.
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