June 4, 1945
Miss B. Takicuchi
C/o St. Alexis Hospital
Now about Captain Nilges. You asked me if I knew him didn't you? Well - I can't truthfully say that I knew him personally, but after being in the same company with him thru basic training, listening to his talks etc., and then seeing him so often usually under fire, after we "hit" combat, its almost as if I had known him.
When I first joined "C" Company he was a 2nd Lieutenant, and one of the four platoon leaders. We became acquainted with him first, thru his lectures on the M-1 rifle. It seemed that any time there was anything to be said, by the company about the M-1 he was chosen to say it. He was nick named M-1. Later as training went on and we came to know him better we found that he was an officer who really stood up for the men under him. We used to get a kick out of listening to his arguments with other officers over the merit of his platoon.
When the 1st Battalion was broken up and I came to "L" Company I lost track of him but I think he came over seas shortly after that as a replacement officer. Of that I'm not sure tho! Well at any rate the next time I saw him was on October 21st. He was a 1st "Looey" then. I remember the date because that was the day of A'Conner task Force. We were cited for it later. I don't know exactly what his job was in the task force but I do know that he was on the move all day. I saw him a couple of times crossing over open ground that was covered by sniper fire. It was always easy to "Spot" him because he was so tall and you know how a six footer stands out in this outfit.
Well from that day on I saw him often. He was always where the fighting was the heaviest. So it seemed anyway and so we were all happy to hear that he'd been promoted to Captain to become our battalion S-3 Officer.
So by the time we'd returned to Italy you can imagine what kind of reputation Captain Nilges had gathered. Even so we were all surprised to see him up on the line with us on the sixth of April.
If you remember we had hit the back of the jerry lines on the day before and more or less cut remaining Jerries off. The 100th was pushing from the South to meet us but because of the way the trapped Jerries were fighting they weren't making too much headway. Well- we were to attack that day to try to make junction and so they didn't look too easy. That's what I mean when I say that we were surprised to see Capt. With us.
It was largely through his leadership that "L" Company was able to advance with no causalities to a position from which we could effectively attack the last remaining strong point between us and the 100th. Not satisfied with what he had already done and not wanting to risk unnecessary casualties the Captain voluntarily set out on a reconnaissance patrol, taking only three men with him, in attempt to find out exactly how the enemy defenses were set up. Well he succeeded in spotting the position all right, but in doing so, he himself was observed and mowed down by bullets from a machine-pistol.
Because of his reconnaissance our Company was able to bring artillery and mortar fire on the Germans, and by nightfall had contacted the 100th and we'd killed captured or driven off the ridge all the remaining Jerries.
Captain Nilges in a way traded his life for the lives of all the men who would probably have been killed had he not gone on the patrol.
That's all I have to say of Captain Nilges, but I know that I and a lot of other fellows will remember him for a long time.
I'd like to write Dr. Nilges a letter but you know how I am, and how much I know writing letters like that. Since I can't do the proper thing I guess the next best thing to do would be to ask you to, in my behalf extend to him my sympathies. Maybe you could show him what I've written here. Do what you think is best, will you please.
Pfc. Bob Takicuchi
Co. L. 442nd Inf.
New York City, N.Y.