PAUL M. NESTLER

Major | Field Artillery

 

An only child, adopted, and leaving no children, Paul Nestler's life story is shrouded in mystery.  He was last seen during the breakout from the Chosin reservoir and tallied as Missing in Action on December 6, 1950 when the remnants of the 31st RCT regrouped and counted their staggering losses.  His remains were not recovered and he was declared dead in 1953 when his widow was presented with his Purple Heart medal which carried his unknown story for many years to come.

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Carrying a satchel with $250,000, a pistol, twenty-one rounds of ammo, and a bolo knife, Nestler and a small group of select officers traveled to Java with Colonel Robenson to persuade ship captains and merchants to run supplies and boats to MacArthur's forces trapped in the Philippines.  For months the men worked on local islands, bribing locals and doing what they could in hopes of rescuing their Army brethren in the islands to the north.  Paul and Lieutenant Albert Cook stayed on Java until the end when the threat of Japanese invasion ended their mission and they returned to their 147th Field Artillery in Australia, broke and without much success despite their greatest efforts.

Paul finished the war as a liaison officer with the 260th Field Artillery in New Guinea, where the unit did less artillery shooting and mostly truck driving.  Five years later, he was again overseas in Korea as assistant S-3 with Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery supporting the 31st Infantry.  He had traveled through Seoul and South Korea before moving north into the Taebek mountains in late October.  It was an unforgiving and foreboding area where Paul met his ultimate fate alongside his comrades.  Very few made it out of the reservoir alive and those that did tried to forget the experience.

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