Robert Lee Vannatter Jr., 91, who parachuted into Europe with the 507th Paratrooper Infantry Regiment, died Aug. 27, and his life is being celebrated from 1-4 p.m. today at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Pleasanton.
Last year Mr. Vannatter was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his heroic efforts in the liberation of France during the earliest hours of the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. He later fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was among the first of the Allies to enter Germany. The Weekly chronicled his adventures in a story in 2011.
Mr. Vannatter was born in Gauley Bridge, W. Va., on March 8, 1921, where he dropped out of high school to work in the coal mines to help support his family. After the war, he married Avis May Whitlock, who died in 1975. With assistance through the G.I. Bill and attending the University of Dayton, he became an engineer by profession, and worked in the aerospace industry in Burbank and Sunnyvale for more than 35 years.
Mr. Vannatter lived in Pleasanton for many years before moving to Scotts Valley recently to live with his son. He is survived by sons Michael Vannatter (Betty) and Daniel Vannatter (Sharon) and daughter Susan Vannatter-Prang (Greg); three grandchildren; and one of his six siblings, Glenna Robinson.
Friends and fellow veterans are invited to the memorial service at the Veterans Memorial Building, which is located at 301 Main St. in Pleasanton. Friends and fellow veterans are invited to attend.