They were driving through a forest in a Jeep when the enemy soldiers ran across the road, he said. The lieutenant, who had insisted on having a machine gun mounted on the dashboard of the Jeep, began firing and the soldiers surrendered.
They brought the Germans to the military police – and discovered the lieutenant had managed to shoot the Jeep’s spare tire.
“The lieutenant probably saved your life with that machine gun.” interjected Routhier’s grandson, Matthew Routhier, a Massachusetts state trooper.
Routhier graduated from Johnson High School – that’s what the town’s secondary school was called in those days – in 1942. Like thousands of American men of that era, he was drafted into the Army the following March.
After spending nine months of training, at Fort Devens, Fort Dupont in Wilmington, Del., and Fort Dix and Camp Kilmer, both in New Jersey, he and at least 15,000 other soldiers boarded the Queen Mary and sailed to Scotland. That amount of time was needed to train the combat engineers for building bridges quickly and under enemy fire, he noted.
While in Britain, where they received more training, the troops lived in Quonset huts for a few weeks, then resided in tents. They slept on canvas and even with a stove in the tent, it was cold, he recalled.
Truckloads of straw were brought in to make for more comfortable bedding “and we still froze,” Routhier said.
Routhier and the rest of the 150th Combat Engineers headed for France after D-Day, June 6, 1944. His brother, the late Joseph Routhier, was among the American troops who landed on Omaha Beach that day.
Routhier, as well as his children and grandchildren, take pride in his service during World War II. A member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2014 and American Legion Post 219, he faithfully attends Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances.