Sunday, September 5, 2004

Howard Walter Rhein, 90, fought at Normandy in WWII

He wrote to mothers of slain soldiers

By Mary Lu Listermann
Enquirer staff writer

FORT THOMAS - Howard Walter Rhein was a quiet man who honorably served his country and often wrote letters to the mothers of fallen comrades to tell them how their sons died.

Mr. Rhein, 90, died Monday at Carmel Manor Nursing home in Fort Thomas.

Mr. Rhein enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and did not return home until the end World War II in 1945. He served in the 30th Infantry and fought in the battle of Normandy, central Europe, northern France, Rhineland and Ardennes, earning the Distinguished Unit Citation with five Bronze Stars and the Good Conduct Award.

His daughter, Pat Walls of Melbourne, said when the Army offered a promotion, Mr. Rhein said no. He wanted to stay and serve with his loyal battalion.

His heart was broken at the injury and loss of his comrades, his daughter said. He faithfully responded to letters from mothers asking how their sons had died, Walls said. He credited his faith, but he never fully understood why he had survived. He was filled with gratitude, which he shared with his family, his daughter said.

After the war, Mr. Rhein worked as a marble cutter with Meese Distributing Co. He also loved to garden and share his bounty with others.

He and his wife, Betty Jane Troxell Rhein, raised six children, including two daughters, Walls and Suzanne Specht; and four sons, Thomas, Christopher, Mark and Todd Specht, in Campbell County. Other survivors include nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, and the services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Dobbling Funeral Home in Fort Thomas. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate. Memorials: Hospice of Northern Kentucky, 1403 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas, KY 41075 or Carmel Manor, 100 Carmel Manor Road, Fort Thomas, KY 41075.

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