Although he was born in Pawtucket, Walter Schroder, the son of German immigrants, spent his early years in Germany where he was drafted in 1944 at age fifteen to serve with an antiaircraft battery. Captured by the British in 1945, he served as a P.O.W. interpreter. Following his release, he enlisted in the U.S. Army of Occupation in West Germany. After returning to Rhode Island, he entered a 32-year civilian career with the Department of Defense and was awarded the Navy’s Superior Civilian Service Medal. Later he served four years as training officer of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.
Walter is an independent researcher, author, and lecturer with special interests in Rhode Island’s military history and the preservation of former military sites. He has been active in restoration efforts at the Revolutionary Conanicut Battery and Fort Wetherill in Jamestown and at Fort Adams in Newport. He has published five books, including Defenses of Narragansett Bay in WW II, which has gone through multiple printings; Davisville and the Seabees; and Dutch Island and Fort Greble. His autobiography, Stars and Swastikas; the Boy Who Wore Two Uniforms, has been the subject of a variety of Rhode Island school projects. His latest work, The Hessian Occupation of Newport and Rhode Island 1776-1779, was published in October 2005 and is notable for its use of German language memoirs and source materials.
Mr. Schroder has lectured extensively, appearing before diversified audiences. His experiences have been featured on NBC10 Timelines and on public television. He has used his German language skills to assist the families of Air Force personnel lost over Germany in WW II in their quest for closure. Walter is associated with the Council on America’s Military Past, the Coast Defense Study Group, the Fort Adams Advisory Committee, Friends of Conanicut Battery, the Artillery Company of Newport, and the Jamestown Historical Society.
Of special note is a letter received by Mr. Schroder, which reads in part: “I congratulate you on your published book Defenses of Narragansett Bay in World War II and your efforts to plug the gaps in Rhode Island’s military history.” Signed: Lyman L. Lemnitzer, General, U.S. Army (Ret.) Supreme Allied Commander, Europe....Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. As Rhode Island’s premier military historian, Walter Schroder has “plugged the gaps” both with accuracy and with dedication.
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