LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Harry Leger spent the last days of World War II in Italy. Family and friends gathered in Vinton on September 28 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Leger. They also honored the veteran for his service in the U.S. Army in Italy. He was a combat engineer.
"We had to pick up what was temporary Bailey bridges, and put in semi-permanent bridges," recalled Leger. "We had to patch roads. We had to do just about everything you could think of. Nothing on the front lines."
Just because he wasn't on the front lines didn't mean his unit escaped attacks by German planes strafing the area with machine guns.
“There was a big tree about that big and it was about 4 feet from where I was at. I got behind it and I grabbed the tree and I hugged it. As he went by, I went with him. Because that would protect me from any bullets that were coming.”
And then there were the cluster bombs.
“They would drop those little parachute bombs that would explode right above the ground. Then all of a sudden he dropped the bomb right there about 50 feet where I was standing and dirt flew all over.”
Leger witnessed the surrender of hundreds of German soldiers and even got the chance to speak with a few who knew english. Harry Leger eventually located in Vinton and worked for Dupont. He and his late wife Mary were married for 62 years and raised 5 children.