|Erwin Steege served on the submarine USS Capelin |
while twin brother Edwin served in Italy with these 34th Infantry Division troops.
Edwin and Erwin Steege never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, these two twin brothers sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
They were born on June 11, 1917 in Iowa. Their parents were also born in Iowa. Their mother's parents were both from Germany. Their father worked as a farmer. Edwin and Erwin had two older brothers and one older sister, plus four younger brothers and two younger sisters. By 1940 Edwin had completed 8 years of school and was working on the family farm. His brother Erwin had moved out and joined the Navy in 1936.
In July 1939, Erwin was serving on the light cruiser USS Honolulu as a seaman first class. By June 1941 he was a torpedoman's mate third class serving on the submarine USS Seadragon. He was still there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He renewed his enlistment the next year and by June 1943 he was a torpedoman's mate first class on the newly commissioned submarine USS Capelin. The Capelin left Darwin, Australia for her second cruise on November 16, 1943. She was last seen on December 2 but never returned to port. The best guess is that she was sunk by a mine in the Celebes Sea.
Edwin enlisted in the army on May 3, 1941. He rose to the rank of sergeant in Company G, 2nd Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment (nicknamed "Ironman"), 34th Infantry Division (nicknamed "Red Bull"). The 34th ID saw combat in French Algeria, Tunisia, and Italy. Sergeant Steege was probably there for all of it, including 12 straight hard-fought months from Salerno to the Volturno to Monte Cassino to Anzio to Livorno. During this time Sgt. Steege would have heard that his brother's submarine was missing. On September 9, 1944 the 133rd IR attacked the Gothic Line near Florence. Resistance was light for a few days, but the troops lost quite a few men to mine fields and enemy fire when they approached the main German defensive position on September 12. Sgt. Steege was killed on September 13.
The 34th ID suffered 16,401 battle casualties, including 2,866 men like Sgt. Steege who were killed in action.
Erwin is still lost at sea. Edwin's grave is at Harlington Cemetery in Waverly, Iowa.
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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100