The Remarkable Jim Niederer

Updated for 2024

As the observance of the 80th anniversary of D-Day was approaching, Dorothy and I talked with the family war hero, Jim Niederer this past weekend. While he did not storm the beaches of Normandy, he did storm the beach at Anzio. On the day we talked with him, he had a session with his physical therapist in the morning and later went shopping with his daughter at a shoe store and Home Depot. He spends time each day in his garage/workshop, where he smokes a cigar. His most recent project has been building large outdoor ornaments wrapped in Christmas lights for his many friends. 

I told some of his story last year when a documentary about his war experiences was released. A group seeking to preserve the memories of veterans filmed Jim’s story and combined it with actual war footage and newsreels of his experiences. You can watch Jim recount his experiences on You Tube. Search for Jim Niederer: 102 Year Old World War II Veteran. The complete documentary is 50 minutes in length. 

Jim’s parents, Dorothy’s grandparents, immigrated to Waco, Texas from the German- speaking Appenzell, Switzerland in 1907. The family became part of the Central Baptist Church, a former mission of First Baptist, Waco to the German immigrant families.  Jim was born January 6, 1921. He served in World War II from 1942-1945. After intensive training, Jim’s unit sailed to north Africa to fight the Nazis in Europe. Under the command of General George Patton, he participated in the invasion of Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio in Italy. Because Jim could speak German, he was able to eavesdrop on the enemy. Jim witnessed General Patton’s death from about 50 feet away. His unit came under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower, whom he talked with on many occasions.  They freed towns across Germany and Austria, where Jim’s unit liberated the Dachau concentration camp. Jim was awarded six bronze stars and a bronze arrowhead.

A man of deep faith, Uncle Jim still lives in his own house. His son Ken comes over each night to help him get ready for bed. His daughter Kay drives in from Round Rock to spend many weekends with him. Others check on Jim daily. He greatly misses his wife, Ella Marie, who died in 2020. And he reads The Evangel faithfully each week. Before we said our goodbyes, he told us, “One good thing about being 103 is: you can’t get much older.”  Remarkable gentleman.

Share this webpage: Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedin