GILBERTVILLE – Taking orders from others can often be a hard feat, especially in any military branch. However, Paul Reuter, a Navy veteran, never minded doing what he was told.
Knowing there were higher powers sometimes comforted him during his time aboard the USS Robinson during the Korean War. As a cook, his responsibility was preparing daily meals and baking bread and pies.
“I was never scared at sea, no matter how rough a storm was,” Reuter said. “I always thought there was somebody else in command, and I was just along for the ride.”
Reuter had been “along for the ride” since he joined the naval reserves to avoid being drafted into the army after being called to complete a physical in Des Moines. The Gilbertville native had “seen too many movies where the army walked in mud and slept in rain.”
A year after enlisting, or early 1952, Reuter boarded the ship which had previously served in World War II. Being young and a “newbie,” he immediately was selected to be a mess cook.
“I tried to work at it and was active with it, doing what they told me to do,” Reuter said. “I liked it, I enjoyed it.”
After taking a leave, he was asked to be a cook and officially added to the commissary. Later that month, the ship was changing personnel around to prepare for the trip to Korea and Reuter was switched to the night shift as a baker.
In an interview with the Grout Museum in 2011, Reuter said he had to make nearly 100 loaves of bread each night during an eight-hour shift. The loaves were mixed by hand and made without the use of measuring utensils. Reuter said he often received compliments on his bread, but more excitement was stirred up when he began making pies.
After being moved back to a regular day cook, he covered the night shift once while the night cook was gone. That night’s task was to make Dutch apple pies, so Reuter followed orders then headed to bed.
The next morning, he awoke to satisfied smiles and compliments as the pies were quickly devoured. “People loved it,” Reuter said.
Eventually, the war ended in 1950 and Reuter returned home without seeing any action, though he had no complaints there.
After completing his service, Reuter worked at an automobile company in La Porte City for a few years, Rath Packing Co. for 10 years, at John Deere until 1985 and at the Courier for about 12 years in maintenance.
Also during that time, he had four children, two of whom still reside in Iowa.
Now, Reuter is enjoying his retirement as a Waterloo resident and even meets with other Korean War veterans every Wednesday at the Grout Museum. He is also a member of the Gilbertville Legion and was a part of its executive committee for several years.
To this day, he does not regret his decision to join the Navy.
“I always felt so bad for those other guys in the Army and seeing the things they saw, even though some of them had really good experiences during their service,” Reuter said. “But I’m glad I was where I was.”