Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WW2 Battle of the Bulge Fallen- Harold Stephens, 11th Armored Division

Pfc. Harold Stephens fought in the Battle of the Bulge with the 21st Armored Infantry Battalion.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/82786595/harold-thomas-stephens
https://history.army.mil/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_24.HTM 
Harold T. Stephens never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 25, 1918 in Pennsylvania. His parents James and Winifred were both born in Wales. His mother died in 1939. His father worked as a fire boss in a coal mine and later as a coal mine foreman. Harold had one older brother, two younger sisters, and two younger brothers. His older brother served in the navy during the war. Another brother served in the army. He completed a grammar school level education and worked as a waiter.

He was drafted into the army on November 20,1942. He became a private first class in Company A, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, 11th Armored Division (nicknamed "Thunderbolt"). The 11th AD arrived in France on December 16, 1944, the day the Germans launched the attack that would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. 

Pfc. Stephens and the rest of the 11th AD were rushed 500 miles east to help repeal the Germans. The 11th ID was tasked with keeping the road open to supply the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne beginning on December 29, 1944. Pfc. Stephens was wounded in action on January 2 and died on January 8, 1945.

His grave is at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Peckville, Pennsylvania. 

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

Last year on this date I profiled Stanley Bennett, 24th Infantry Division. You can read about Stanley here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

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“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

WW2 Fallen - B-24 gunner Raymond Munstermann

S/Sgt. Raymond Munstermann served in the 785th Bombardment Squadron.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118663353/raymond-c-munstermann
http://www.fiddlersgreen.net/models/aircraft/Consolidated-B-24.html
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/unit/1427 
Raymond C. Munstermann never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 24, 1918 in Minnesota. His parents Ernest and Mary were also both born in Minnesota. Three of his grandparents were born in Germany. His father worked as a farmer. Raymond had three older brothers, one older sister, one younger brother and three younger sisters. By 1940 Raymond had completed eight years of school and was working on the family farm.

He was drafted into the army on February 27, 1942 and volunteered for the Army Air Forces. He became a staff sergeant and gunner in the 785th Bombardment Squadron, 466th Bombardment Group which was equipped with B-24 Liberators.

On July 28, 1944 the B-24 Liberator Sgt. Munstermann was flying in stalled on takeoff from Attlebridge, England. It crashed and the fuel tanks exploded which in turn set off 2 thousand-pound bombs. The entire crew, including Sgt. Munstermann was killed.

His grave is at Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Holloway, Minnesota.

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

Last year on this date I profiled James Burnett, 29th Infantry Division. You can read about James here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

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“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

Monday, April 23, 2018

WW2 Guadalcanal Fallen - Medal hero John Strandwitz, 1st Marine Division

Lt. John Strandwitz was mortally wounded while fighting a fire caused by Japanese bombing of Henderson Field.
https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/31649038/person/120072943044
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/134872465/john-t-strandwitz
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/363173157429935455/
John T. Strandwitz never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 23, 1918 in New Jersey. His parents William and Dorothy were born in Norway and England, respectively. His father owned a sheet metal manufacturing factory. John had one older sister and three older brothers. By 1940 John had completed two years of college.

He enlisted in the US Marines on January 6, 1942 and became a 2nd lieutenant in the HQ Service Battery, 1st Special Weapons Battalion, 1st Marine Division. 

The 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. They set up a perimeter defense to protect Henderson Field. During the latter half of August the Japanese sent daily bombing missions to try to knock out the airfield and eliminate the threat American planes posed to Japanese warships.

On one such attack on August 29, 1942 a Japanese bomb set off a fire in the First Marine ammunition dump. Lt. Strandwitz volunteered to lead a detail to extinguish the fire. He was hit by a fragment of an exploding shell and died of his wounds that day. He was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat Navy decoration for heroism.

His citation reads as follows:

For heroic conduct while attached to the First Special Weapons battalion, First Marine Division, on the occasion of a fire in the area of the First Marine ammunition dump as a direct result of a Japanese bombing raid on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, August 29, 1942.

Volunteering with a detail of nine men, Second Lieutenant Strandwitz proceeded to the burning dump and courageously led his group in beating out the spreading flames, breaking down stacked boxes of ammunition and carrying them to safety. While encouraging his men in the performance of this extremely hazardous task, Second Lieutenant Strandwitz was struck by an exploded shell fragment. 


His personal valor and inspiring leadership in the face of grave peril were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

His grave is at Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

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

Last year on this date I profiled P-47 pilot Harold Nussman. You can read about Harold here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

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“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

Sunday, April 22, 2018

WW2 Fallen - William Wheatley, 34th Infantry Division

Pfc. William Wheatley served with the 133rd Infantry Regiment in Tunisia.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70649964/william-l.-wheatley
http://www.34thinfantry.com/publications/redbulletin-vol1no13.html 
William L. Wheatley never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 22, 1918 in Tennessee. His parents S.H. and Edith were also both born in Tennessee. His father worked as a pencil mill foreman and later as an oil truck driver. Still later he took up farming. William had one older brother and two younger brothers. By 1940 William had completed four years of high school and was working at a laborer while still living with his parents. He married Mary Juline Turner in April 1941.

He was drafted into the army on June 27, 1942. He became a private first class in the 133rd Infantry Regiment (nicknamed "Ironman"), 34th Infantry Division (nicknamed "Red Bull"). The 34th ID saw combat in French Algeria and Tunisia.

Pfc. Wheatley was killed on April 8, 1943 during the first day of offensive action of the 34th ID. It was attacking across open desert to take Fondouk, Tunisia.

His grave is at Lone Oak Cemetery in Lewisville, Tennessee. The local VFW post was named in his honor. His widow never remarried and died in 2000.

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

Last year on this date I profiled Lester Purcell who served in the American Division on Guadalcanal. You can read about Lester here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation

“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

Saturday, April 21, 2018

WW2 Fallen - PV-1 Ventura copilot Kevin Ahern

Ensign Kevin Ahern went MIA after the Ventura bomber he was copiloting was shot down near Bougainville in May 1944.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Ventura 
Kevin O. Ahern never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 21, 1918 in New Hampshire. His parents Michael and Amanda were born in New Hampshire and French speaking Canada, respectively. Kevin's paternal grandparents were from Ireland. His father worked as a cotton mill clerk and later as an employment office helper. Kevin had two older sisters and four older brothers. At least one brother also served in the military during WW2. By 1940 Kevin had completed four years of college and was living at home.

He enlisted in the US Navy on June 10, 1942 and became an ensign and bomber pilot in the US Navy Flier Bombing Squadron 148. The unit was formed in August 1943 and was equipped with PV-1 Ventura medium bombers. It was sent to New Guinea in early April 1944.

Ensign Ahern was copiloting his Ventura on a mission to Bougainville on May 3, 1944, when it was hit by enemy fire and crashed into the sea, taking the lives of all five crewmen. His remains were not recovered.

He is memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.

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

Last year on this date I profiled B-17 bombardier Stephen Monson. You can read about Stephen here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

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“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

Friday, April 20, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Medal of Honor hero Arlo Olson, 3rd Infantry Division

Captain Arlo Olson earned the Medal of Honor while serving in Italy.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7931824/arlo-laverne-olson 
Arlo Laverne Olson never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 20, 1918 in Iowa. His parents Frank and Vera were also both born in Iowa. His father worked as a bank cashier. He moved his family to South Dakota where he was also a bank cashier. Arlo's paternal grandparents were from Sweden. Arlo had one younger sister. By 1940 Arlo had graduated from the University of South Dakota where he participated in ROTC.

Arlo married Myra Boudreaux. They had one daughter.

He enlisted in the army on June 9, 1940. He became a captain in the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. The 3rd Infantry was one of the first US Army units to see action in the war. It helped free French Morocco in late 1942. Captain Olson would also have participated in the invasion of Sicily and Salerno. Things only got tougher when the 3rd Infantry took part in the fighting in Italy. 

On October 13, 1943 the 3rd Infantry attacked across the Volturno River. Once on the other side of the river, the 15th Infantry Regiment went on to take the high ground. His leadership over the next two weeks showed he did not keep to the rear at the company command post. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Captain Olson's Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 

On October 13, 1943, when the drive across the Volturno River began, Capt. Olson and his company spearheaded the advance of the regiment through 30 miles of mountainous enemy territory in 13 days. Placing himself at the head of his men, Capt. Olson waded into the chest-deep water of the raging Volturno River and despite pointblank machine-gun fire aimed directly at him made his way to the opposite bank and threw 2 handgrenades into the gun position, killing the crew. When an enemy machinegun 150 yards distant opened fire on his company, Capt. Olson advanced upon the position in a slow, deliberate walk. Although 5 German soldiers threw handgrenades at him from a range of 5 yards, Capt. Olson dispatched them all, picked up a machine pistol and continued toward the enemy. Advancing to within 15 yards of the position he shot it out with the foe, killing 9 and seizing the post. 

Throughout the next 13 days Capt. Olson led combat patrols, acted as company No. 1 scout and maintained unbroken contact with the enemy. 

On October 27, 1943, Capt. Olson conducted a platoon in attack on a strongpoint, crawling to within 25 yards of the enemy and then charging the position. Despite continuous machinegun fire which barely missed him, Capt. Olson made his way to the gun and killed the crew with his pistol. When the men saw their leader make this desperate attack they followed him and overran the position. 

Continuing the advance, Capt. Olson led his company to the next objective at the summit of Monte San Nicola. Although the company to his right was forced to take cover from the furious automatic and small arms fire, which was directed upon him and his men with equal intensity, Capt. Olson waved his company into a skirmish line and despite the fire of a machinegun which singled him out as its sole target, led the assault which drove the enemy away. While making a reconnaissance for defensive positions, Capt. Olson was fatally wounded. Ignoring his severe pain, this intrepid officer completed his reconnaissance, supervised the location of his men in the best defense positions, refused medical aid until all of his men had been cared for, and died as he was being carried down the mountain.

His grave is at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota. His widow and daughter have since died, but he has living grandchildren and great-grandchildren who never met him.

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

Last year on this date I profiled B-17 crewman William Hammack. You can read about William here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation

“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

Thursday, April 19, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Charles Coggeshall, Bataan Death March POW

Sgt Charles Coggeshall survived the Bataan Death March only to die seven months later in a POW camp.
(Photo of painting was taken by Philip Garcia, Mar 18, 2010, DBC office in Camp Aguinaldo)
https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1265/40391_247254-00152
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/17531467/charles-allen-coggeshall
https://bataancampaign.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/bataanpainting.jpg
Charles Allen Coggeshall never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on April 19, 1918 in New Mexico. His parents Charles and Veva were born in Kansas and Indiana, respectively. His father worked as a railroad conductor. The younger Charles had a younger brother and a younger sister. By 1940 Charles had completed two years of college at the University of New Mexico and was living at home. 

He served in the New Mexico National Guard and his unit was federalized on September 4, 1940. He was corporal in the 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment which was sent to the Philippines in August 1941. It was supposed to be a one year posting but the Japanese invasion changed that. 

Corporal Coggeshall's unit provided anti-aircraft defense when the Japanese bombed Philippine targets a few short hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The anti-aircraft units were credited with shooting down 85 Japanese planes in the next four months. 

Charles was promoted to sergeant and transferred to Battery B, 515th Coast Artillery Regiment and fought on the Bataan Peninsula until the Americans surrendered. He endured the April 9, 1942 Bataan Death March to the Camp O'Donnell prison camp. There was inadequate medicine and food causing the deaths of hundreds of prisoners. Sgt. Coggeshall died on November 7, 1942. (Update: See first comment below from James Erickson for correction on date of death and additional details.) By the end of the war only half of the original 1,800 men from the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment remained alive to be liberated from Japanese prison camps.

His cenotaph grave is at Santa Fe National Cemetery in New Mexico.

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

Last year on this date I profiled Carlton Carney, 4th Infantry Division. You can read about Carlton here.

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!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation

“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”