The story of Jack Biolchini, a member of the 415th, 2nd Battalion HQ Company of the 104th Infantry Division, the "Timberwolves". Landing in Cherbourg, France in September of 1944, they fought through Belgium and Germany, most notable their direct involvement in the liberation of Camp Mittelbau Dora and the masses of starved, concentration camp dead.
The frigid night air cut through the Lieutenant's army issue coat as the stopped in the knee deep snow to survey the perimeter. A heavy snow continued to fall on this Christmas Eve 1944. The flashes of artillery somewhere in Belgium lit the sky and generated a rumble like distant thunder as the young officer of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion finished his tour of the unit's outposts.
Tech Sergeant Zschiesche was killed in action while serving with the 579th Bomber Squadron, 392nd Bomber Group, Heavy. Nose Gunner on the William Clifford crew (EXTERMINATOR) on a mission to Vegesack, the B-24 aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters in the vicinity of the coast out north of the target at Vegesack after the Group attacked this target. It was never recovered.
Entering the Army in March 1944, James Hennessey had infantry replacement training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, SC, then proceeded to Ft. Jackson where he was assigned to the 87th. On Feb 26, 1945, Jim was wounded near Neuenstein, Germany. Jim fondly reflects, "It seems the Acorn patch on my shoulder ended up in my heart, for I feel blessed to have friends in the 87th."
The memoirs of Corporal Fred J. Balester, first written sometime between 1988 and 1995 for the five Balester children, ostensibly as letters to the youngest son, Marc. Daughter, Valerie Balester shares them here in hopes the Balester children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will honor their memory and enjoy this brief but important episode in their personal history.
These are tidbit stories about Pasquelle "Pat" Capparelle, who was in the 150th Combat Engineer Battalion. Earning 5 battle stars for being in 5 out of 6 major campaigns in the European theatre, they also received a unit citation from FDR, making them the most highly decorated unit in the European theatre. They built 26 bridges, including two over the Rhine River. Several of those bridges were built under fire from small arms, artillery, mortars and Luftwaffe aircraft.
Charles Seth served as part of the 466th Bomb Group in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a navigator, based out of AAF Station #120 near Attlebridge, England. During his service he navigated, mainly, aboard two different B-24 'Liberator' bombers: Lovely Lady and Lovely Lady's Avenger. On 21 June, 1944 he was involved in a crash landing in Lovely Lady's Avenger. In his own words...
That first nightmarish week after receiving the infamous "Greetings" letter from Uncle Sam had to be one of the more vivid memories for us, the World War II inductees. They lined us up quickly in motley formation and conducted a lengthy roll call. Then we were marched over to a low, ugly overheated building across a snow covered tarmac. "Go over to the benches and strip down..."
I was based at Kaneohe Bay with Patrol Squadron Eleven composed of 12 PBY-5 seaplanes. We were formerly VP-23 based at Pearl Harbor and had only been based at Kaneohe Bay a short time. Our planes were new having been flown from San Diego on 27 and 28 October 1941. I was an Aviation Radioman First Class assigned to squadron aircraft #7.
Of the 20 planes that set out 6 failed to return. Four crashed high in the mountains, one crashed near Cantalupa but the sixth disappeared without a trace. The wreckages of the crashed planes were eventually found but there was no news of the sixth Liberator. The crew members of the sixth Liberator were officially posted missing. The disappearance of KH158 has yet to be solved.
On the morning of the 19th we moved out with the 1st Battalion to Noville which we were to defend along with TEAM Desobry, CCB, 10th Armored Division, which had been defending the village since the previous evening. Noville is seven kilometers northeast of Bastogne. Noville lies in a saucer- like depression with high ground all around it except in the west, difficult to defend.
In WW2, I was an Army Air Force 4-engine B-24 bomber pilot, 1st Lt. in the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 23rd Squadron, called the "Bomber Barons". I made 43 bombing missions in the South Pacific, was shot down twice, and picked up once by an American submarine, the USS Cobia. With over 50 million square miles of water in the Pacific, it was nothing short of a miracle.
This is a story of two boys of diversified backgrounds, one born American of Irish heritage, the other a naturalized citizen of Italian parents; both caught up in the throes of war, from which they became good friends. A story of combat in the Ardennes, subjected to the frigid temperatures, the hardships, the machine gun fire and struggles of every day hazards in the life of an infantryman.
Well, that evening we wrapped our boots with burlap bags to muffle any sound we step on sticks or whatever, blackened our faces with charcoal and left after dark. The infantry man with me could speak German in case we needed it. We walked, we crawled and sometimes we were so close to the German troops in their foxholes, we could hear them talking.
As a prisoner I walked a total of approximately 525 miles. One hundred and ten miles from the point of capture on the German-Belgium border to Stalag 12-A (German prison camp), Limburg, Germany. We never entered the camp, but were loaded into box-cars, 60 men to a box-car. LIBERATION DAY was Friday April 13, 1945. I shall never forget that day.
Omaha Beach was a bloody landing. They died in the water as well as on the beach. What a night. They shelled us, bombed us, and the ambulance shook. There were 2 seats that folded down in the ambulance - one short and one long. Henry King slept on the long one and snored all night. He never heard a thing. I slept on the short one and don't believe I slept a wink.
Retired United States Air Force Major Joseph Philip Gomer, my father, served as a fighter pilot with World War II's famed Tuskegee Airmen. He was born on June 20, 1920 in Iowa Falls, Iowa. With tears in my own eyes and much love, I must say I am very proud of my father and give him my own standing ovation. From the time he was a small boy, he dreamed of flying airplanes...
John F. Peters from McKees Rocks, Pa. joined the US Army in Feb. 1941. On December 16, 1444 John was on the front line of the BATTLE OF THE BULGE. He was wounded within hours of the battle with shrapnel to the face and finger. Germans captured the aid station in which he was being treated and he was trucked to a hospital inside the prison camp - Stalag 12-A.
I'm wide awake, just lying in my sack thinking of today's mission. Off in the distance, I can hear the occasional roar of an engine being run up on the flight line. Our ground crews have been working through the cold, wet night getting our planes ready for another maximum effort. An unwelcome voice says, "Osadnick, Wagner, Corn, Morris: briefing at 0530!"
Over here you carry loaded rifles with plenty of ammunition, and if they don't halt, you shoot and ask questions later. Poor old Adolph must have his hands full by now. We all hope he will give up soon. I have seen lots of bomb craters and fox holes by the hundreds. On the Italian roads were wrecked tanks and airplanes by the dozens. Some towns like Cassino are level with the ground.