Ralph Albert Hiller was born on 13 Sep 1921 in Center Line, Michigan. He was the son of Albert and Mary Ann (Schulte) Hiller and attended the St. Clement parish grade and high schools in Center Line. Ralph dropped out of school after the 9th grade so he could work full-time at Richard Tieche's Center Line Bakery to support his widowed mother and three siblings.
Ralph entered the US Army at Ft. Custer, MI on 10 Aug 1942. After receiving basic training, he was promoted to Cook T/5 and nine months later to Baker T/4 while assigned to Fort McClellan near Anniston, AL . In the spring of 1944 he was promoted to S/Sgt while stationed at Camp Blanding, near Jacksonville, FL. In preparation for transfer overseas, in Sept. 1944 he was assigned to A Co., 16th Replacement Reg. (Inf.) at Ft. Meade, MD. He arrived in the European Theater of Operations on 09 Nov 1944 and was assigned to B Co., 13th Inf. Reg., 8th Inf. Div.
While overseas, Ralph was a Mess Sergeant, responsible for the feeding of 200 men from the company kitchen and supervising the work of 9 cooks and assistants. He also drove a truck while hauling supplies and rations and carrying meals to his men in the field. See the gallery for a 24 Sept 1944 report describing how the 8th Infantry and other units provided rations for their troops during combat operations.
During his time with Company B, the 13th Inf. Regiment saw action in the Hurtgen Forest, crossed the Roer River and captured the towns of Duren and Sindorf. As his company was nearing the city of Cologne, S/Sgt Hiller was wounded in the forearm by shrapnel on 02 Mar 1945. He was hospitalized at the 4314 US Army Hospital and returned to duty on 30 April 1945, by which time his regiment was on the banks of the Elbe River, about 40 miles southeast of Hamburg. Germany. He arrived back in the United States on 10 July 1945 and was discharged from the Army on 11 Nov 1945 at Fort Sheridan, IL. For his service to our country, S/Sgt Ralph A. Hiller was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Ralph returned home and began working for the City of Center Line Water Department. In 1956 he was promoted to the position of Water Department Superintendent. In 1971 he married a fellow city employee, Thelma Hodson. After enjoying a few years of retirement, Ralph died of cancer on 02 Sep 1989.