Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Ney Wagner, 35th Infantry Division + Butterfly Effect

Pfc. Ney Wagner served in the 35th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=33670610
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkYqIvhz8JM 

Ney Cecil "Buddie" Wagner never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 23, 1917 in Texas. His mother was born in Arkansas. His father was born in Texas and worked as a farmer. Buddie had two older sisters and a younger sister. By 1940 he had completed two years of high school and was still living with his parents while working as a laborer. His parents probably planned on pass their farm on to him.

Buddie was married his wife Gracie by the time he enlisted in the US Army on March 17, 1944. 

Gracie Wagner.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=42914738 

He became a private first class in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 320th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division (Santa Fe Division). The 35th Division suffered 15,822 casualties during the war so it was in constant need of replacements and Pfc. Wagner was one of them. 

Pfc. Wagner participated in the Battle of the Bulge when the 35th Infantry Division was part of the American effort to relieve Bastogne. It got there the day after Christmas 1944. Specifically, the 35th Infantry Division was tasked with pushing the Germans out of nearby Villers-la-Bonne-Eue. It took 13 days, but the Germans were forced out by January 10, 1945. Throughout the battle Pfc. Wagner and the rest of Company L had to deal with zero degree temperatures, waist deep snow, and fanatic SS panzer troops in excellent defensive positions. Every house, hill, and wood had to be taken separately. Captured SS troops were found with vials of acid they were suppose to throw on the faces of the Americans if captured. The brutal nature of the fighting resulted in many killed G.I.s. Pfc. Wagner was one of them. He was killed on January 7, 1945.

His remains were returned to be buried at Blanco Cemetery in Blanco, Texas. His widow never remarried and died in 1999. She is buried next to her husband. They had one son who is probably still living.

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


THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT
Also born on May 23, 1917 was Edward Norton Lorenz. He was a gifted student of mathematics at Dartmouth College and Harvard University before the war who enlisted in the army in 1942. He put his math genius to work by serving as an army meteorologist. 


http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-when-a-butterfly-flutters-its-wings-in-one-part-of-the-world-it-can-eventually-cause-edward-norton-lorenz-107-79-51.jpg

After the war he earned two degrees from MIT. He became a pioneer in chaos theory and coined the term butterfly effect to describe how small causes can have large effects. He died in 2008.

The accomplishments of Lorenz serve as a reminder of the missed accomplishments of all the fallen who never came home.


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!

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
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To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY

Monday, May 22, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Robert Burrows, 42nd Infantry Division

Pfc. Robert Burrows served in the 42nd Infantry Division with these troops.
http://www.mywarhistory.com/browse/printPreview.aspx?serviceHeroId=2 

Robert E. Burrows never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 22, 1917 in South Carolina. His parents were also both born in South Carolina. His father was a farmer. Robert had six older sisters and one older brothers, plus one younger sister and one younger brother (who also served during the war). By 1940 Robert had completed high school (where he was valedictorian) and moved from his parent's farm to Charleston where he worked as a salesman and lived with his wife Ruth and daughter.

Robert enlisted in the US Army on March 25, 1944. He shipped out for Europe in January 1945. He became a private first class in the 142nd Engineers Combat Battalion attached to the 42nd Infantry Division.

On March 15, 1945 the 42nd Infantry Division launched an attack in the Hardt Forest to break through the Siegfried Line that would last seven days. Pfc. Burrows died on the first day of the advance.

His remains were returned to be buried at Williamsburg Presbyterian Cemetery in Kingstree, South Carolina. I don't know what happened to his widow or daughter.

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


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!

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY


Sunday, May 21, 2017

DRAFT: WW2 Fallen - Jack Knight 5/29

This profile will be shared on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017. It is published here as a draft so organizations interested in highlighting this for Memorial Day can see it in advance.

Lt. Jack Knight commanded an infantry unit in Burma that included two younger brothers.
http://www.cbi-theater.com/knight/knight.html 

On this Memorial Day we honor Medal of Honor recipient Jack L. Knight who never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 29, 1917 in Texas. His parents were also both born in Texas. His father worked as a farmer. Jack had five younger brothers (three of whom served during the war) and one younger sister. By 1940 Jack had graduated from Weatherford Junior College and was working on the family farm.

On November 18, 1940, Jack and his brother Curtis both enlisted in the Texas National Guard.

He served as a first lieutenant and was the commander of F Troop, 124th Calvary Regiment, Mars Task Force. His brother Curtis was in the same unit and was it's First Sergeant. Brother Loyd, if you can believe it, also joined the unit. Brother Hershel broke the pattern by serving in the Navy during the war.

In a age of armor and air power, the army didn't know what to do with a calvary regiment. It stayed in Texas until June 1944 when it turned in it's horses and became an infantry unit. In July, it was sent to serve in India. By December 1944 it was part of Mars Task Force, a special unit tasked with the mission of removing the Japanese from North Burma. It required a 200 mile march through mountainous jungles and streams. It must have been quite an adjustment for the three Knight brothers used to dry Texas. Normal resupply was impossible -- they had to get everything delivered by airdrop.

His is the only Medal of Honor earned by someone in the ground forces of the US Army in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War 2.

Carl W. Weidenburner did an outstanding job describing Lt. Knight's last battle. It reads like a scene from a John Wayne movie. The decision to award him the Congressional Medal of Honor was an easy decision. You can read his full article at http://www.cbi-theater.com/knight/knight.html

On the morning of February 2, 1945, Knight and his men started out at 6:20 a.m. Following a barrage, Knight's troop "F" moved 1,500 yards through the Hosi Valley jungle, then up a 250-foot slope towards the objective. Only two Japanese were met on the way. Knight killed them both with his carbine.

Knight and his men reached their objective after 35 minutes. The men began to dig in. Knight reconnoitered the slope at the end of the hill. He spotted an enemy pillbox and grenaded it. He found two more pillboxes and gave them the same treatment.

Knight called to his men, "Come on up. There's a whole nest of them here." His men obeyed. Knight found himself in the center of a horseshoe formation of pillboxes. He threw a grenade into his fourth pillbox, then fired his carbine into it.

Men who later described the scene said Knight acted as if he were out to get every pillbox himself. A Japanese soldier tossed a grenade at the lieutenant. He backed away but the burst caught him full in the face. As he turned around and walked back to Lt. Leo C. Tynan to get more carbine ammunition, the men saw blood dripping from his face.

Another enemy soldier tried to bayonet Knight as he walked past a pillbox. Lt. Tynan killed him. Knight took half of Tynan's ammunition and started forward again. As he broke into a run, he muttered to Tynan, "I can't see."

The troop had caught up with him by then. Concentrated fire came from the pillboxes. Men were falling all around Knight. He regrouped his squads by arm motions and went out in front again.

He grenaded his fifth Pillbox. An enemy grenade landed nearby and wounded him a second time. This time he went down. But as he lay there, he kept shouting encouragement to his men. Lt. Knight's brother, 1st Sgt. Curtis Knight, saw his brother fall and ran forward to lead the troop. But he was dropped by a bullet under the heart.

The lieutenant asked one of the men to get his brother back to an aid station. He continued to encourage his men. Then, on his hands and knees, he started to crawl towards another enemy pillbox. He was hit by a bullet. It was the end for Lt. Jack Knight. His men went on to take the objective. His brother, flown to an evacuation hospital, recovered. 


Brother Curtis earned the Silver Star and the Bronze Star (died in 2013 at age 94). Brother Loyd died in 1987.

His remains were returned to be buried at Holders Chapel Cemetery in Cool, Texas.

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


JOHN F. KENNEDY TIE IN
John F. Kennedy was also born 100 years ago on May 29, 1917. Hundreds of books have been written about JFK including many about his service as a PT boat skipper in the South Pacific. 

His brother Joseph, whom his father had groomed to run for president one day, was one of the fallen. We will never know if others of the fallen may have also run for president had they survived.

In remembering the fallen on Memorial Day, we can do well to reflect on President Kennedy's words: 

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them."

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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To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share.



WW2 Fallen - Howard Van Hoose, 3rd Armored Division

Pvt. Howard Van Hoose, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=39370321 

Howard Van Hoose never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 21, 1917 in Kentucky. His parents were also both born in Kentucky. His father was a grocery merchant and later a lumber merchant. Howard had an older sister. By 1940 Howard had completed 8 grades of education and moved out of his parent's home. He was working as a salesman and was married to his wife Joan. He became the manager of the Louisa branch of his dad's lumber business.

On November 20, 1943 Howard was in Huntington, West Virginia where he enrolled in the US Army as a private. He was originally in the Army Air Corp but later transferred to the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Division sometime in 1945.

As the 3rd Armored Division approached the Elbe River, it discovered the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp on April 11, 1945 where slave laborers helped to build V1s and V2s. They found more dead then living. The local German citizens were made to dig the graves. As the troops moved on they noticed the German Army was well entrenched to defend the Hartz Mountains. They decided to bypass and continue on to the Elbe River. Pvt. Van Hoose was reported missing on April 15, 1945. On this same day the 3rd Armored Division was ordered to halt it's advance. Pvt. Van Hoose's body was discovered later and his status was changed to Killed in Action. He was likely one of the last of the 1,810 men from the 3rd Armored Division killed in the war.

His remains were returned to be buried at Wells Buckingham Cemetery, Paintsville, Kentucky. His wife never remarried and died in 2004. They had one son.

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


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!

To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share.




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Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Saturday, May 20, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Walter Kreklow, 88th Infantry Division

Lt. Walter W. Kreklow, 88th Infantry Division began his service as a private.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=9299101 

Walter W. Kreklow never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 20, 1917 in Wisconsin. His parents were also both born in Wisconsin and his father's parents were both from Germany. His father was a farmer. Walter had three younger sisters and three younger brothers (the older two served in the Army Air Corp during the war). By 1940 Walter had completed 8 years of schooling and had moved away from home. He was working as a farm laborer on the farm owned by the parents of his future wife. He later worked as an upholsterer.

Records show he enlisted in the National Guard in 1937 and in the US Army on July 12, 1941 (in Florida) with the rank of sergeant. A year later, in August, he attended O.C.S. and was commissioned a second lieutenant. In November 1942 he married his wife Elaine.

He advanced to the rank of first lieutenant in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division. He left America for the North African theater in October 1943. He saw action in Africa and also Italy and was wounded three times. In mid-October 1944 the 88th ID was assigned to take Mount Grande in the cold and mud. Lt. Kreklow was killed in action on October 18, 1944. The 88th ID lost more than 6,000 men to death, wounds, and missing during the 44 days they were on the front lines for this campaign.

His remains were returned to be buried at Union Cemetery, Jefferson, Wisconsin. I don't know what happened to his widow.

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!

To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share.



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Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Friday, May 19, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Robert Putnam, 35th Infantry Division

Sgt. Robert Putnam, 35th Infantry Division.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=73053283 

Robert Putnam never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 19, 1917 in Pennsylvania. I was not able to find any information about his parents or siblings. By 1940 Robert was living in Michigan, had completed four years of high school, was working as a salesman, and was married to his wife Virginia. He enlisted in the US Army on October 11, 1940.

He rose to the rank of first sergeant in the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division. The 35th ID arrived in Normandy a month after D-Day. After breaking out of the Cotentin Peninsula in early August, Sgt. Putnam's unit was part of the effort to dislodge German troops near Mortain on August 7, 1944. The next day German SS Panzers broke into the rear areas of the American position and attacked the 2nd Battalion HQ. Sgt. Putnam was likely wounded in this engagement and he died of his wounds before the day ended.

His remains were returned to be buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska. His wife remarried after his death and died in 1972.

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


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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Thursday, May 18, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Audrey Harris, 37th Infantry Division


Pfc. Audrey Harris.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=46075510 

Audrey Harris never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 18, 1917 in Alabama. His parents were also both born in Alabama. His father was a farm laborer. Audrey had a younger brother (who joined the army in February 1945) and a younger sister. By 1940 his parents were not living together. His mom was working as a housekeeper and Audrey, who completed one year of high school, was working in a saw mill and lived with her.

Audrey enlisted in the US Army on December 31, 1942. He was married at the time. He was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division and had the rank of private first class. Pfc. Harris may have joined his unit in time to serve in the Battle for Bougainville in the spring of 1944. The 145th Infantry Regiment participated in the invasion of Luzon in January 1945 and helped secure Manila in March 1945.

CORRECTION: In an early version of this story I reported that Pfc. Harris died May 12, 1945 when the 37th Division was resting and resupplying. I have since learned from the 37th Infantry Division in WWII (@37thidwwii) that on May 12, 1945 the 145th Infantry Regiment was actually fighting a very bloody battle at Mount Pacawagen and the Wawa Dam sector. It is likely that Pfc. Harris was killed due to this action.

His remains were returned to be buried at Orange Cemetery in Clarke County, Mississippi. I did not find any information about his widow.

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


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, May 17, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Edward Gill, 3rd Marine Division, Iwo Jima

Marine Pfc. Edward Gill was killed in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=94477659&ref=acom 

Edward Henry Gill never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 17, 1917 in Missouri. His parents were also both born in Missouri. His father was a car repairman and later an owner of an ice and coal business. Edward had one older brother, two older sisters, one younger sister, and two younger brothers (who both served in the Navy). By 1940 Edward had completed one year of high school and was still living at home. At some point after the 1940 census, Edward married Catherine Delores Myers.

Catherine Delores Gill.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=94479371&ref=acom 

Edward enlisted in the Marines on March 13, 1944. He was a private first class, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

The 3rd Marine Division was in action in Bougainville before Pfc. Gill joined the unit. He may have seen his first action at the Battle of Guam in July 1944. He was certainly involved when the 9th Marine Regiment landed on Iwo Jima five days after the February 19, 1945 initial landing. The fight on Iwo Jima cost the 3rd Marine Division 1,131 killed in action and 4,438 wounded, in other words, more than one in three leathernecks were casualties.

On March 6, their eleventh day of bitter fighting, the 9th Marine Regiment resumed an all out effort to break through the final Japanese defense line. They attacked without the normal advanced artillery fire and it caught the Japanese by surprise.

Recognizing the desperate nature of their position, Japanese troops came out of their underground position to fire on Marines from all sides. Pfc. Gill's Company F became totally cut off from the rest of the regiment and fought all day and night before other units rescued them. By that time it was too late for Pfc. Gill who was killed while surrounded by the enemy.

His remains were returned to be buried at Wright City Cemetery in Missouri. His wife never remarried. She died at age 63 in 1985 and is buried next to her husband.

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=94479371&ref=acom

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


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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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Seeber Crawford, 101st Airborne at Bastogne

Sgt. Buck Crawford died on Christmas Day, 1944 defending Bastogne.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=29266338&ref=acom

Seeber "Buck" Crawford never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 16, 1917 in Florida. His parents were also both born in Florida. His father was a farmer who died at age 41, a couple months before Seeber turned 10 years old. Seeber, who went by Buck, had one older brother, two older sisters, one younger sister and one younger brother. Buck's mother continued to work the family farm with her six children after her husband died. 

By 1940 Buck was working for a furniture company. He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. He enlisted in the US Army on February 24, 1942. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant in Company A, 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He arrived in England in September 1943. He participated in the predawn Normandy glider landings on D-Day and fought the Germans through the French hedgerows. In September he was landing again in a glider during the 101st Airborne's assignment in Operation Market Garden in Belgium. 

His last battle was the 101st Airborne's defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. His regiment was defending the west side of the line by December 19. Company A was set up at the extreme point of the west lines at Flamierge and received major attention from German units for two days.  By December 23, Sgt. Crawford's unit had retreated three miles, but did not let the Germans break through the lines. Sgt. Crawford spent Christmas Eve shivering in a foxhole east of Mande St-Etienne.

By 6 am on Christmas morning seven German Panzer MkIVs and three Stud IIIs attacked through the center of Company A and it's 77 men. Sgt. Crawford's men were overmatched and it took the leadership of the NCO's to keep the green troops among them from bolting. The American's used fog cover to hide or move before they were spotted by the German tanks. One of the privates in Company A was in a foxhole that was in the direct path of a tank. The tank destroyed his M1 and bazooka but kept going. Once the tanks were past, Company A moved back into position and was able to stop the German infantry following the tanks. Without the infantry support, the German tank attack was stopped. The Christmas morning action cost Company A four men. One of the fallen was Sgt. Crawford.

Just before leaving for Bastogne, Sgt. Crawford was able to write a letter to his mother. He said, "Dear Mom and all -- Not much to write. I'm O.K. and feeling fine, except homesick as usual. Don't have any idea how long I'll be over here or where I'll go before it's over. I'll be alright, though, wherever I am, so don't worry about me."

His remains were returned to be buried at Midway Cemetery, Lake Butler, Florida.

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


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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Monday, May 15, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Earl Charbonneau, KIA after just 2 days

Troops from 358th Infantry Regiment in Normandy hedgerows around the time Sgt. Charbonneau as killed.
http://www.ww2incolor.com/us-army/advance.html 

Earl L. Charbonneau never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 15, 1917 in Massachusetts. His mother was born in Vermont and his father was born in New York. All four grandparents were born in Canada. His father was a tin shop sheet metal worker and later a sheet metal mechanic. Earl had one older brother and one younger sister. By 1940 Earl had completed four years of high school, was still living at home with his parents, and had also gotten a job as a sheet metal worker. 

On January 16, 1941, Earl had left his sheet metal job and enlisted in the US Army from the National Guard. By 1944 he had been promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant and was serving in Company A, 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division (Nicknamed Tough 'Ombres).

The 90th Infantry Division arrived in England in April 1944, scheduled to take part in the Normandy invasion. The 358th Infantry Regiment landed on Utah Beach on June 8, 1944 (D+2). Sgt. Charbonneau's unit was moved to the front lines one day later where the Germans were defending positions in the Normandy hedgerows. Sgt. Charbonneau's war did not last very long. He was killed in action on June 10, 1944, just two days after arriving in France . Although he was one of the first Tough 'Ombres killed, it was just the beginning -- 3,342 would be killed by the end of the war. Total 90th ID casualties were an astonishingly high 19,200 during World War 2.

His remains were returned to be buried at Notre Dame Cemetery, Worcester, Massachusetts.

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


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, May 14, 2017

WW2 Fallen - King Gunther, killed by early cruise missile

Sgt. King Gunther was killed when the HMT Rohna was sunk by a German radio guided missile.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMT_Rohna#Loss 

King P. Gunther never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 14, 1917 in Michigan. His parents were also both born in Michigan. His dad's parents were born in Germany. His father was a farm bureau salesman and later a seed handler. Gunther had one younger sister. By 1940 Gunther had completed 4 years of high school and was working as a clerk and salesperson while still living with his parents.

In the spring of 1941 he traveled the 500 miles from Lansing to Detroit and enlisted in the US Army as a warrant officer. He was assigned to the 322nd Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter Group and was promoted up to the rank of tech sergeant. Sgt. Gunther's unit flew P-47 Thunderbolts. Normally Sgt. Gunther would not have been at high risk to death operating from an airbase miles from the front lines. However Sgt. Gunther died in a tragic sinking that claimed more lives than the USS Arizona but remains largely unknown to this day.

Just after noon on Thanksgiving Day (November 25, 1943), Sgt Gunther was one of more than 2,000 American troops that steamed out of Oran, Algeria on the British passenger liner HMT Rohna. Thanksgiving Dinner this day was watery canned chicken and weevil-filled bread. It joined a convoy on the way to Egypt before continuing on to the Far East. 

The next day, in the late afternoon, the convoy was attacked by a squadron of 30 Heinkel He 177A heavy bombers. Rather than using conventional bombs they were armed with Henschel Hs 293 radio-guided, rocket-boosted glide bombs; in other words a primitive cruise missile. Via line-of-sight remote control, the Germans in one of the bombers guided the glide bomb to hit the 461 foot long ship and pierce the port side. The blast created holes in both sides of the ship big enough "you could drive a truck through" plus flooded the engine room. The explosion also started fires and knocked out all electrical -- rendering the pumps useless. The crew discovered that all 11 of the lifeboats on the port side were either destroyed or unusable due to the listing of the ship. They were able to use 8 of the lifeboats on the starboard side but most became overloaded and capsized.

Other ships in the convoy were able to rescue more than 1,600 survivors, but 1,318 troops and sailors were killed. No other single sinking claimed more Allied lives during World War 2. There was no immediate reporting of the tragedy. The Allies did not want to let the Germans know their new wonder weapon worked. In February 1944 a press release reported the sinking of an unnamed ship and the loss of 1,000+ soldiers by a German submarine. In June 1945 the US government finally identified the Rohna and the accurate casualty figures plus admitted it was a loss due to bombing, although no mention was made of the unique guided bomb. In 1948 a history of the shipping line that owned the Rohna finally revealed the ship was sunk by a wireless guided bomb. The US government did not confirm this until 1967.

Sgt. Gunther's death is memorialized at Evergreen Cemetery in Lansing, Michigan.

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


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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Saturday, May 13, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Pacific Paratrooper Duane Larsen

Pfc. Duane Larsen died in the battle to retake Corregidor Island in February 1945.
http://corregidor.org/heritage_battalion/looking_for.html 

Duane E. Larsen never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 13, 1917 in Michigan. His mother was also born in Michigan and had German born parents. His father was born in Indiana and his parents were both from Sweden. Duane's father worked as a paper maker at a paper mill and later as a beater engineer. Duane had two older brothers and one younger brother (who served in the Army Air Corp during the war). By 1940 Duane had completed two years of high school and was working as a clerk.

He enlisted in the army on February 26, 1941 and served as a private in the coast artillery until he transferred to jump school. Pvt. Larsen married his wife Dolores on February 11, 1943. They had one daughter Dolane who was born after he arrived with Battery A, 462nd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in Australia at the end of March 1944. 

This unit saw action in Noemfoor, Leyte, and Mindoro. It was also part of the assault to retake Corregidor Island on February 16, 1945, making the difficult airdrop on the small island. The Japanese fought tenaciously as always, but by February 26 the battle had reached the mopping up phase. The Japanese had packed the caves on the island with explosives. At 11:05 am an American tank fired into one of these caves and probably set of an explosion that lifted off the ridge above the cave. Pvt. Larsen was on that ridge. It was four years to the day from when he joined the US Army.  He and many others were killed as a result of the explosion.

Many of the details concerning Duane Larsen were provided by his daughter Dolane for the website http://www.ww2-airborne.us/units/462/462_trp.html. Read her tribute here.  

His remains were returned to be buried at Calvary Cemetery in Niles, Michigan..

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


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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Friday, May 12, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Edgar Meyer, 88th Infantry Division

T Sgt. Edgar A. Meyer, 88th Infantry Division.
https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=146914474

Edgar A. Meyer never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on May 12, 1917 in New York. His parents were also both born in New York. His father was a polisher for a metal company. Edgar had an older sister. By 1940 Edgar had completed 8 years of school and had a business waxing floors.

Edgar enlisted in the army on July 19, 1942. He advanced to the rank of tech sergeant in Company A, 1st Battalion, 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division (Blue Devils). The Blue Devils arrived in Italy in February 1944 and they were moved to the front near Monte Cassino by March 4, 1944. The action in the Blue Devil's area was quiet for the first week, but not quiet enough for Sgt. Meyers who died of wounds on March 9, 1944.

His remains were returned to be buried at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, New York.

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


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!

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100