Friday, March 24, 2017

WW2 Fallen - John Mazzone, USS Nelson

Fireman John Mazzone served on the destroyer  USS Nelson.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Nelson_(DD-623)

John Anthony Mazzone could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 24, 1917 in New York. His parents were both born in Italy and came to America in 1907. John had an older brother and sister and a younger brother and two younger sisters. By 1940 he had completed high school and was working as a printer. His mother was a widow by then.

He was married to Mildred Mazzone.

John Mazzone served as a Fireman 2nd Class on the destroyer USS Nelson which became part of the Atlantic fleet. The Nelson saw action in the invasion of Sicily and was a late arrival to support the D-Day Invasion on D+2. The Nelson's duty was to screen out German submarines and E-boats from threatening the ships supporting the landing. On the evening of June 12-13 the Nelson was hit by a torpedo that blew off her stern. Twenty four sailors were killed, including Fireman Mazzone

Fireman Mazzone was originally buried in North Ireland. His remains were returned after the war to be buried at Long Island National Cemetery. I don't know if his wife ever remarried.

Thank you John for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for John.


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Thursday, March 23, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Walter Sowinski, 35th Infantry Division, POW

Keith Rocco's painting of 35th Infantry Division in Normandy where Pvt. Sowinski was captured by the Germans.
https://sites.google.com/site/chg35th/

Walter J. Sowinski could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 23, 1917 in New York. His parents were both born in Russia and came to America in 1907. His father was a farm laborer. Walter had an older brother and a younger brother.

Walter joined the army on April 8, 1943. He indicated that he had completed three years of high school and had worked as a furrier in the fabrication of fur goods. He was a private and was a replacement soldier sent to the 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division.

The 35th Infantry Division joined the front lines in Normandy on July 8, 1944 and immediately suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of Saint-Lo and more than 2,400 during the Normandy campaign. By late July, Pvt. Sowinski's unit was actively part of Operation Cobra to break out of the Normandy position. He went missing on August 4 and became a prisoner of war held by the Germans near St. Avold-Metz.  On August 25 he wrote a note to his mother that in part said:

"I'm not wounded or sick. I'm being fed well and had a good taste of German beer. It's swell. Don't worry about me."

However, a few weeks later he succumbed to diphtheria and died on September 20, 1944.

His remains were returned to be buried at Long Island National Cemetery.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82601487&ref=acom

Thank you Walter for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Walter.


On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Leroy Cooper, 26th Infantry Division

TEC 5 Leroy Cooper, 26th Infantry Regiment.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=16932519

Leroy Gilbert Cooper could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 22, 1917 in Missouri. His mother was also born in Missouri. His father was from Arkansas and worked as a carpenter. Roy had one older sister and four older brothers, plus a younger brother. By 1940 Roy had completed an 8th grade level of education and was working as a camp laborer.

Roy enlisted in the army on December 7, 1942, one year to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He indicated he had completed three years of high school and had been working as a shipping clerk. He became a TEC 5 in the 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division.

The 26th Infantry Division arrived in France in September 1944. By early December it had advanced across the Saar River as part of General Patton's Third Army. It was called on to help repel the German attack during the Battle of the Bulge where it was engaged in actions against determined German resistance. Cpl. Cooper died on January 5, 1945, likely while his unit was involved in advancing on the Wiltz River.

Cpl. Cooper 104th Infantry Regiment was in the southeast position on this map just before his death.
http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_24.HTM
More detailed map provided by Fern Weis

His remains were returned to be buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

Thank you Roy for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Roy.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Harrison Wittee, B-29 Bombardier, POW

Nose art from the B-29 Lt. Wittee flew on his final mission over Japan.
http://www.497thbombgroupb29.org/nose_art.htm

Harrison K. Wittee could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 21, 1917 in Illinois. He had completed high school, was working as a manager of some type and was married (Helen K. Wittee) before he joined the army.

Harrison joined the Army Air Corps on February 10, 1943 as an aviation cadet. He because a first lieutenant and navigator/bombardier assigned to the 869th Bomb Squadron, 497th Bomb Group. This group flew B-29 Superfortresses operating out of Saipan. Lt. Wittee's squadron conducted bombing missions over Japan in 1945.

The American Maid on an earlier mission when a crewmate of Lt. Wittee
was sucked out but survived tied to a safety harness.
http://b-29.org/73BW/497BG/bartlett/bartlett1.html

This photo of the crew of the American Maid in Spetember 1944 likely includes Lt. Wittee.
http://b-29.org/73BW/497BG/bartlett/bartlett1.html

Lt. Wittee was the bombardier in the American Maid when it was shot down on a daylight fire mission over Osaka on June 1, 1945, Lt. Wittee became a prisoner of war at the Osaka Main Camp, Chikko, Osaka in Japan. A July 21, 1945 report listed him as dead. It appears he was executed by his Japanese guards for unknown reasons.

His remains were returned to be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Thank you Harrison for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Harrison.


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Monday, March 20, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Ernest Carey, 2nd Marine Division

Marines on Saipan carry a dead soldier during the month of June 1944 when Cpl. Carey was killed.
https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2016/01/photo-of-the-day-660/
Ernest Marion Carey could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 20, 1917 in Indiana. His parents were also both born in Indiana. His father was a farmer in Indiana, but later moved to Texas with his family where he worked as a carpenter. Ernest had an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister. By 1940 Ernest had completed four years of high school, was married, and was working as a stock man.

Ernest rose to the rank of corporal in the 29th Marine Regiment attached to the 2nd Marine Infantry Division during the Battle of Saipan.

Cpl. Carey died on June 18, 1944. On that day the 29th Marine Regiment was on its fourth day of fighting. By the time Cpl. Carey died, the Americans had suffered over 5,000 casualties. It would take more than a month more to clear the enemy from the island.

This map shows the 2nd Marine's position on the north flank of the American lines on the date Cpl. Carey died.
http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-C-Saipan/index.html
His valor was recognized by a Silver Star Medal.

His remains were returned to be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. His wife died in 1999. It does not appear that she remarried.

Thank you Ernest for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Ernest. 


On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Wilbur Bledsoe, 8th Infantry Division

8th Infantry Division troops advance between Normandy hedgerows around the time Pvt. Bledsoe was killed.
http://www.fatherswar.com/8thinfdiv/WW2/WW2index.html

Wilbur O. Bledsoe could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 19, 1917 in Missouri. His parents were also both born in Missouri. His father was a farmer and later a laborer in a fire clay mine. Wilbur had an older brother and three older sisters plus three younger brothers. By 1940 Wilbur had completed an 8th grade education and was working as a shoe worker.

Wilbur became a private in Company F, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. His unit landed on Utah Beach on July 4, 1944. Fighting through the Normandy hedgerows, the 8th ID crossed the Ay River on July 26, 1944. Two days later Pvt. Bledsoe was killed.

There is a memorial to Pvt. Bledsoe at Owensville City Cemetery in Owensville, Missouri.

Thank you Wilbur for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Wilbur.


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Saturday, March 18, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Edward DeGarmo, Decorated Torpedo Bomber Commander

Edward DeGarmo at US Naval Academy in 1940.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=76388221&PIpi=129086430

Edward Emmet DeGarmo could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on March 18, 1917 in Wisconsin. His mother was born in Tennessee and his father was born in Missouri. His father worked as a sales manager for a cement company and later a commercial traveler for a shirt company. Edward had two younger sisters. 

Despite his humble beginnings, Edward was accepted to the US Naval Academy out of Ohio. He graduated in 1940. The academy yearbook noted that midshipman DeGarmo was fond of playing bridge and had a reputation as a walking dictionary with unmatched debating skills. After graduating from Annapolis, Edward was commissioned as an ensign and went to aviation school. He also married Beatrice Kirk and the couple had two children.

Edward became a Lieutenant Commander and torpedo bomber pilot on the carrier USS Bennington. He flew TBM-3 Avengers and commanded the Bennington's torpedo bomber squadron known as the Devil's Diplomats. 
Avengers from Lt Cmdr DeGarmo's squadron.
http://www.uss-bennington.org/Robert_J_Cosbie/index.htm

During his flying career, he was a highly decorated pilot with the Navy Cross, a Silver Star, and 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses. His final award was a Gold Star awarded posthumously for actions that led to his death. For details on the other actions that led to these awards, see here.

This is his Gold Star citation:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Lieutenant Commander Edward Emmet DeGarmo (NSN: 0-85002), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while participating in aerial flights as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane and Commanding Officer of Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY-TWO (VT-82), attached to the U.S.S. BENNINGTON (CV-20), engaged on special missions in close support of ground operations on Okinawa on 3 June 1945. 

He materially assisted in sustaining the progress of the ground forces by dropping needed supplies and equipment to forward elements in repeated minimum level glides over advance positions. These missions were accomplished during the advance of our forces against determined enemy resistance and in the face of concentrated anti-aircraft fire. 

As he completed his final mission of the day his plane was struck by enemy anti-aircraft fire which engulfed the engine in flames. In spite of the flames which quickly enveloped the cockpit and of the progressively severe burns he suffered therefrom, he crash-landed his plane within friendly territory so skillfully as to save his aircrewman from all but minor burns and injuries. 

His cool courage and determination despite his own severe wounds and his superb airmanship were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Lt. Cmdr. DeGarmo's remains were returned and buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. I was unable to find additional information about his wife and children.

Thank you Edward for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Edward.

Thanks to Darillyn Lamb Starr for recommending that Edward be profiled.


On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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