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World War II veteran profiled on his 101st birthday has died

Folded flag resting on a headstone. (MaxPixel/Released/TNS)

A World War II veteran recently profiled in the Yakima Herald-Republic for his role in the surrender of Germany as a U.S. liaison and translator has died.

Adolph Grams, who turned 101 on Feb. 24, died Tuesday morning, his daughter reported. Cindy Tutsch of Yakima and her brother, David Grams of Rapidan, Va., celebrated his birthday with him in his room at Cottage in the Meadow. Some staff members also visited with Grams, who got a carrot cake and balloons for the big day.

Grams was born in Ralston His ancestors were Germans who from emigrated from Bessarabia, then part of Russia, and Grams grew up speaking only German until he started school and had to learn English.

After growing up near Ritzville and graduating from high school there, he joined the U.S. Army and married Winifred Jean Williams. She preceded him in death in 2008.

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His proficiency speaking German prompted Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, to task him with visiting the headquarters of the 19th German Army and providing Eisenhower’s instructions on the disposition of all military hardware to the Allied forces.

On his birthday, Grams recalled that experience, which involved a harrowing drive through thousands of German soldiers who reluctantly parted for the Jeep carrying him, his driver and a major. He also spoke of the joy of arriving back in the United States after the war in Europe ended, and the thousands who greeted him and the 17,000 troops who returned home on the Queen Elizabeth.

“It was a tremendous day,” he said.

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© 2020 Yakima Herald-Republic