Herman S. Geist was born on April 5, 1925 in New York. He was enlisted as a draftee on August 17, 1943 in New York City, New York.
June 6, 1944, the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division landed on the beaches of Normandy. With six months of continuous combat, and in the dead of winter, they were engaged in the Battle of the Bulge. It was then that a nineteen year old newly minted lieutenant, Herman Geist, joined fresh from Officers Candidate School. On the first day his sergeant slammed him into the snow. ‘Look at that black smoke,’ he said. ‘They’re shooting at you.’
It was almost a year later, in 1945, that the Second Division reached Bohemia and liberated Pilsen, in the Czech Republic, southwest of Prague, from Nazi occupation. By then they had been merged into General George Patton’s 16th Armored Division of the Third Army. “The group had been in continuous combat. My platoon was the first in (action) because I was young and they said I needed the experience,” Mr. Geist said, and then added, “There were scattered battles but the Germans were more afraid of the Soviets. We accepted the surrender of the 11th Panzer Division. They were Hitler’s elite corps. The surrender took twenty-four hours because we had to separate them, fifty yards apart.”