Thomas C. Reibel - LST 507

Pvt. Thomas C. Reibel - U. S. Army
 478th Amphibious Truck Company
Name on the Wall of the Missing
Cambridge American Cemetery, England

Brief History of Thomas C. Reibel by Barbara Arndt, Niece

Tom was born on July 14, 1923, to William & Rose Reibel.  Tom had three brothers and two sisters.  While growing up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, in Ramsey County, he graduated from White Bear Lake High School in 1939, and entered the Army in April 1943.  The last time his family were all together was just before he headed overseas in December 1943.   During the early morning hours of April 28, 1944, he perished during a D-Day full dress rehearsal in the English Channel.

His parents were informed he was Missing in Action without receiving any further information of what happened.  His body was never recovered and they did not receive any of his personal belongings as proof of his death, which made it so hard for them to believe he wasn't ever going to return home.  For so many years, his oldest brother felt that he was alive in England, after being wounded, without knowing who he was.  More than 40 years passed before he found out the real truth.  Tom had died in what was called "Exercise Tiger".  At the time of the practice landings, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered that if any person talked about what happened during that deadly night, they would be Court Martialed.  That is why it was kept a secret and why the families were not told the truth.  Why all those years had to pass before his family found out the truth is so sad.

So many men were killed during Exercise Tiger and if had not been for Ken Small, a local Torcross resident, our family may still not know today.  He was walking along the sea shore and found many objects, such as watches, rings, dog tags, etc.  Upon asking questions, he soon found out more about the ill-fated operation.  He spent his own money to have a WWII Sherman Tank brought up from the bottom of the sea, which is now on display in Slapton Sands, England, dedicated to all the men who died.  In 1988, we received a letter from Ken Small with my uncle's name on a list of MIA's.  My father was very grateful that he finally received verification of his youngest brother's death.  As the tears flowed down his cheeks, he told me that now Tom can Rest in Peace.  I have had contact with many wonderful, dedicated people throughout the years....the late Ken Small, Dr. Eugene Eckstam, a survivor from LST 507, now  deceased, and Laurie Bolton, whose uncle died on LST 531.  Each one is very special to me for keeping alive the memory of our loved ones who perished.

Uncle Tom, until we meet again, thanks for giving your life to make things better for us.  We miss and love you.