Puck, Armin Friedrich (1914–2011)

By: William V. Scott

Type: Biography

Published: July 27, 2022

Updated: July 27, 2022

Armin Friedrich Puck, U. S. Army and National Guard officer and businessman, was born on June 19, 1914, in Moulton, Texas. He was the only son in a family of five children born to German immigrants Paul Otto Puck, a practicing dentist, and Louisa (Hearther) Puck. Puck was baptized on September 2, 1914, at Zion Lutheran Church in Moulton. He started his schooling in the Moulton public school system, where he learned English. The family moved to San Antonio in 1928, and in 1929 Puck attended a thirty-day Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) at Camp Bullis. The CMTC admitted young men ages eighteen to twenty-five, but Puck was fifteen.  Puck graduated from Harlandale High School in 1931. He attended the University of Texas at Austin where he was in the university light opera and played baseball before receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1935. In 1937, during a Methodist Youth Fellowship event sponsored by the Harlandale Methodist Church, Puck made the acquaintance of former classmate, Marguerite Laura Cloud, and the two were married on September 2, 1938. They had son David in 1942 and daughter Patricia in 1951.

Armin F. Puck began his military career by enlisting in the Texas Army National Guard on July 14, 1932. He attended CMTCs and other guard summer camps and rose through the ranks to senior master sergeant in the 141st Infantry at the end of this service in May 1939. During his time in the National Guard, he also worked for an insurance company. Puck was commissioned a second lieutenant of the Thirty-sixth Military Police Company in its infancy on May 23, 1939, and was transferred to federal service as a platoon leader in November 1940. He became the division testing and classification officer at the Fort Sam Houston Reception Center. He was promoted to first lieutenant in February 1941 at Camp Bowie near Brownwood, where he was assigned the position of provost marshal of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division. Puck was promoted to captain in March 1942 and to major in January 1943. He was also sent to the ninety-day British Army Commando School in Scotland.

In February 1943 he arrived oversees as an observer attached to Gen. George Patton’s headquarters at Tunis in North Africa ahead of the landing of the Thirty-sixth Division in North Africa in April 1943. After his observation of the invasion of Sicily, Puck was reattached to the Thirty-sixth. The Thirty-sixth Division held the designation as the first American combat division to land on the continent of Europe and fought through the Italian Campaign as part of the Fifth Army, where it was engaged at Mt. Lungo, San Pietro, and the Rapido River. In January 1944, the Thirty-sixth took heavy tolls as it lost the better part of two of its three regiments in the unsuccessful attempts to cross the Rapido River, where Puck himself was wounded, but he soon recovered. On May 25, 1944, the division landed at Anzio and eventually captured Velletri on June 1, 1944, and opened the gates of Rome for the Fifth Army. On June 4, the Thirty-sixth Division captured San Merino and arrived and secured Rome the next day—Puck was part of the advance guard of the Thirty-sixth Division. While in Rome, Puck and other officers met Pope Pius XII.

The Thirty-sixth Division was pulled out of Italy in the end of June and performed an amphibious landing on the beaches of Southern France on August 15, 1944. Driving up through Southern France, Major Puck established traffic control posts and contained German prisoners until they were transported to a prisoner of war transport. In winter 1945 at Haguenau, France, the Thirty-sixth Division and its reinforcements destroyed eight tanks and took prisoners of Germany’s prestigious 10th SS Ranger Division, who were turned over to Puck. The division continued to the Rhine and turned towards Austria as an armistice was called, when the war in Europe ended. The Thirty-sixth Division, Sixth Corps, of the Seventh Army accepted the surrender of Field Marshal Hermann Goering. Near Kaufbeuren, Germany, Puck and a battalion captured a three-story German scientific research hospital which was conducting human scientific experimentations. German personnel evacuated concentration camps at Landsberg and Dachau just prior to the Allied arrival, and some of the forgotten Jewish inmates of these camps were found by Puck and others. Puck recalled the Thirty-sixth Division trek to the Tarragon Sea where Nazi officials had summer homes and where Heinrich Himmler was captured.

Puck returned home to San Antonio on the troop transport USNS Aiken Victory in September 1945. He served as commanding officer of Special Troops, Thirty-sixth Infantry Division, from February 1945 until January 2, 1946, when he was discharged from federal service. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on December 21, 1945. Puck was a great admirer of the leadership and qualities of Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., and Gen. Omar Bradley and wrote on the subjects for the Army War College.

After his World War II discharge, he served as commanding officer, Special Troops, 36th Infantry Division, from November 1946 until February 1949. In the months following the war, Puck was instrumental in the reorganization of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division as part of the Texas National Guard. He served with the 141st Infantry as the executive officer beginning in February 1949. Puck took the Associated Infantry Officers Advance Course in 1955 and attended the resident Command General Staff Officers Course in 1956. He also attended the Air Ground Operations Specialist Course and refresher courses at both the Infantry School and Command and General Staff College. On March 16, 1959, Puck was assigned deputy commanding officer with the 141st Infantry and assumed command on May 1, 1959. He was promoted to colonel on May 7, 1959. He assumed command of the First Infantry Brigade of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division at San Antonio in March 1963 and was appointed deputy brigade commander, Thirty-sixth Infantry Brigade (Separate), in November 1965. In April 1969 he was given the honorary rank of brevet brigadier general. Puck, having served during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, retired from the Texas Army National Guard on July 13, 1969.

Armin Puck received many decorations for his military service, including the Legion of Merit, Order of the Crown of Italy, Croix De Guerre (France), Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal (EAME) with seven stars, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Texas Service Medal. He participated in seven campaigns, including Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, Central Europe, and Ardennes-Alsace. Armin F. Puck was inducted into the Texas Military Forces Museum’s Hall of Honor in 1998.

In the 1970s Puck served as assistant director of the San Antonio Office of Civil Defense. Throughout his adult life he active in a number of fraternal organizations, including Victory Masonic Lodge No. 1160 in San Antonio, the American Legion, Military Orders of World Wars, Thirty-sixth Infantry Division Association, and 141st Infantry Association. He was a member of Coker, Jefferson and Harlandale United Methodist churches. Puck was active as director emeritus of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition and belonged to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, San Antonio Fiesta Commission, National Accountants Society, and the Finance Commission.

(Bvt) Brig. Gen. Armin F. Puck passed away at the age of ninety-six on March 31, 2011, in San Antonio, Texas. He was interred with full military honors next to his wife at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

“Brevet Armin F. Brigadier General Puck,” Obituary, Porter Loring Mortuaries (https://www.porterloring.com/obituaries/Brevet-Armin-F-Brigadier-General-Puck?obId=18172625), accessed July 26, 2022.  “Interview with Brigadier General Armin F. Puck, 1983,” By James B. Sweeney, Institute of Texan Cultures Oral History Collection, University of Texas at San Antonio (https://digital.utsa.edu/digital/collection/p15125coll4/id/1851), accessed July 26, 2022. Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor: Armin F. Puck, Texas Military Forces Museum (http://texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/hallofhonor/puck.htm), accessed July 26, 2022. San Antonio Express-News, April 12, 1969; April 22, 1973.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

William V. Scott, “Puck, Armin Friedrich,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/puck-armin-friedrich.

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July 27, 2022
July 27, 2022