AMERICA REMEMBERS - Its with great sadness, we have been informed that Normandy World War II veteran Mr. Eddie Price, known for his patriotism and devotion to veteran causes has died. He was 94.
Many veterans knew him as the man who drove them to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Durham.
His wife, Evelyn, knew him as a man who helped everybody. She said Sunday that she will remember him “for the love he showed me and his fellow man.”
A Lucama native, Price was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He completed basic training in 1943 and was sent to England in April 1944 as a rifleman with the 29th Infantry Division. He was part of Operation Overlord at Normandy.
Price told The Wilson Times in 2000 that he spent that first night in France in a foxhole and watched German and American planes overhead and listened to the sound of artillery fire.
After serving in combat, Price spent a year as a military police officer in England, France and Belgium. He never advanced beyond private first class — “that’s as high a rank as I got because I was drafted for that one job,”
Over the years, Price served as chairman of the Wilson Committee on Patriotism and was an active member of the DAV as well as American Legion Post 13 and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation “Where Every Day is Memorial Day”
AMERICA REMEMBERS - World War II Marine whose book about grueling jungle combat during WWII became a basis for the HBO miniseries "The Pacific" has died at his home in Texas.
Burgin was born to Joseph Harmon Burgin and Beulah May Burgin in Jewett, Texas.
Mr. Burgin joined the United States Marine Corps on November 13, 1942, during World War II and was assigned to the 9th Replacement Battalion. He soon became a mortarman in K-Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, and fought in the Pacific War at Cape Gloucester, then alongside his friend, Eugene Sledge, on Peleliu, and Okinawa where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant upon reaching Okinawa.
Burgin was the author of the memoir Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific (with William Marvel). He was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions in the Battle of Okinawa on 2 May 1945, when he destroyed a Japanese machine gun emplacement that had his company pinned down.
After the war, he went to work for the United States Post Office. While in Melbourne, Burgin met an Australian woman, named Florence Risely. They married in Dallas on January 29, 1947. The couple had four daughters. Burgin is portrayed in the HBO miniseries The Pacific by Martin McCann. Burgin himself appears in documentary footage during the miniseries.
On behalf of TGGF and its members, we salute Mr. Burgin for his dedication and service to our freedom.
"Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest Generations Foundation Website: www.TGGF.org
WE REMEMBER - World War II veteran Donald Brancaccio a true HERO will be missed. Brancaccio was 93.
Donald Brancaccio was a true Windsor boy. He was born and raised in Windsor. He was called up in 1944 – Canada had overseas conscription near the end of the war – and became an infantry private in the Essex Scottish Regiment.
The local Essex Scottish participated two years earlier in the 1942 Dieppe Raid with heavy casualties. In 1954, The Essex Scottish and The Kent Regiment, which did not serve overseas during the Second World War, were amalgamated to form The Essex and Kent Scottish.
He and hundreds of other soldiers left Halifax to head overseas and as the transport ship approached Britain, the ship got word the German U-boats were after them, his son said. The ship was rerouted to Glasgow, Scotland in an alarming welcome to the war.
Mr. Brancaccio had more training in Britain before heading to Antwerp, Belgium. He never got to the front lines but served in the field of battle in Belgium and Holland, his son said. At the end of the war he was repositioned to Hamburg, Germany to help transport military equipment back to Allied bases.
He died Monday about a week away from his 94th birthday on May 1.
As his family went through hundreds of photographs Tuesday, it was evident in the pictures of baptisms and graduations how much he loved his large family. He had a big heart, a strong work effort and was super polite, his son said. “Thank you kindly. That was one of his favourite sayings.”
“He was always proud to be, number one, a Windsor resident and number two, a Canadian.”
"Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest Generations Foundation Web: www.TGGF.org
AMERICA REMEMBERS: World War II Veteran Gino Marchetti, Baltimore Colts legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer, dies at 93.
Marchetti was born in Smithers, West Virginia, the son of Italian immigrants Ernesto and Maria. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating high school in Antioch, California, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge as a machine gunner during World War II.
Upon returning home to California after the war, he attended Modesto Junior College for a year before joining the football program at the University of San Francisco, where his team enjoyed an undefeated season in 1951.
He was selected in the second round of the 1952 NFL draft (14th overall) by the New York Yanks. In 2004, Marchetti was voted to the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame.
"Where Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest Generations Foundation Web: www.TGGF.org
WE REMEMBER - Bernard Dargols, only French Soldier to fight at Omaha Beach in World War II, dies at 98.
Former soldier, whose family has Jewish origins, left France in 1938 for an internship in the United States and enlisted after seeing France’s Vichy leader shake hands with Adolf Hitler.
Bernard Dargols, the only French soldier to fight in an American uniform as Allied forces stormed the coast of Normandy at Omaha Beach in a battle heralding the end of World War II, has died aged 98, the Caen Memorial war museum said Tuesday.
“We are deeply saddened by Bernard’s passing… surrounded by his loved ones, a few days from his 99th birthday. We will miss him terribly,” the museum said on Twitter.
His death comes just a few weeks before France is hosting ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which are to be attended by US President Donald Trump.
Dargols had left France in 1938 for an internship in the United States, and after seeing France’s Vichy leader Philippe Petain shake hands with Adolf Hitler, he enlisted in the US Army, later obtaining joint French-American citizenship.
He was just 24 when he crossed the Channel from England to France on June 8, 1944, two days after Operation Overlord was launched to help wrest back France from Germany.
“Some GIs were killed in the water. By what miracle was I going to make these last few meters” to the beach, he recalled in a 2012 memoir written with a grand-daughter.
“If the Liberty Ship had been able to quickly go into reverse, I think I would have asked them to do it,” he said.
A jeep named Bastille
A few hours later, aboard a jeep nicknamed “La Bastille,” he found himself surrounded by his fellow Frenchmen who couldn’t believe their ears.
“What a feeling to hear French spoken, to be taken in the arms of all these people older than me, calling me their liberator,” he recalled.
“If I had kept all the bottles of calvados brandy they were giving me, I think I could have opened my own specialist shop!”
Dargols, whose family had Jewish origins, had an aunt and uncle who were deported to the Nazi death camps where they died, though his mother managed to remain in Paris during France’s occupation.
After the war he took over his father’s sewing machine shop, but he often spoke about the bloodshed he witnessed, giving interviews to ensure younger generations never forgot the high price paid.
“Today we’re seeing the signs of anti-Semitism,” he told AFP in a 2014 interview.
“I want young people to fight back against it.”
"Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation Web: www.TGGF.org
AMERICA REMEMBERS - Jim Coley, World War II and Merchant Marine veteran, dies at 96.
A native of Meadville, Mississippi, Coley served on three U.S. Merchant Marine ships during WWII, including one of the first allowed into Manila Harbor in 1945 during the fight to recapture the city. Coley served in his ships’ galleys, working his way up from waiting tables to chief cook.
A fleet of civilian-owned vessels that became a Navy auxiliary during the war, the Merchant Marine played a critical role, carrying troops, supplies and equipment around the globe. Its ships were often targeted because of their vital cargo, and the Merchant Marine suffered a greater percentage of war-related deaths than any other U.S. service.
Coley and other merchant mariners had to wait a long time to be recognized as veterans. They were finally granted that status in 1988, thanks to a federal court ruling.
After the war, Coley returned to Louisiana and worked for oil drilling operations, including 21 years off-shore for Chevron.
In 1969, he survived Hurricane Camille, losing everything “except the clothes I had on.” Camille still ranks among the most devastating storms in recorded history.
Coley moved to the Tulsa area in 1981, working as a state field superintendent for Sterling Oil Co.
Survivors include his wife, Ella Jane Coley; daughters, Crystal Theriot, Marcy Dowler and Myra Wood; and 14 grandchildren.
"Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation Web: www.TGGF.org
AMERICA REMEMBERS - World War II veteran, POW William Connell dies at 95.
William "Bill" Connell's first bombing mission in 1944 would also be his last. Shot down over an island in the Pacific Ocean, he would endure over a year in Japanese prison camps.
Connell was liberated at the end of World War II and lived a long life as a husband, father, naval officer and insurance salesman. A longtime resident of Edina and Bloomington, he died on April 25 at age 95.
William Laughlin Connell grew up in Seattle and enlisted in the Navy soon after graduating from high school in 1942. He trained stateside as a naval aviator for nearly two years before joining a divebombing squadron on an aircraft carrier.
At the controls of a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Connell took off from the USS Hornet before dawn on July 4, aiming to destroy a radio transmitter on the Japanese island of Chichijima, about 600 miles south of Tokyo. He and his rear gunner came under heavy fire, a shell exploding close to their aircraft.
"It blew the plane right in half, so that me and the front end of the airplane went one direction, and my rear seat man and the tail went a different direction," Connell said in a 2004 interview
The gunner was never heard from again. Connell managed to deploy his parachute, descending into Chichijima's harbor while accosted by tracer bullets. He was taken ashore and then hung from a tree by his arms – tied behind his back – for 12 hours.
For many months, Connell would be interrogated and beaten occasionally and would sleep on a board. When the war ended in August 1945, Connell was down to 110 pounds – 55 pounds less than when he'd been shot down – and his lower legs were swollen from beriberi because of a nutritional deficiency.
Back in Seattle with the Navy after the war, Connell met Mary Jane Bolstad, a Minneapolis native. They married and moved to the Twin Cities in the late 1950s when he took a post at the Naval Air Station in Minneapolis. Connell retired from the Navy in 1964 as a lieutenant commander.
He then started a career as an insurance salesman, working for State Farm in Bloomington for 23 years. Even after retiring from that job, Connell worked part-time until the mid-1990s in the pro shop at the Minnesota Valley Country Club in Bloomington.
"Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation
AMERICA REMEMBERS - 101st Airborne Paratrooper Ralph K. Manley, who parachuted into Normandy during D-Day in World War II died Monday afternoon at the age of 95.
Whenever Ralph Manley was around, there was always laughter, fun, and his trademark jump for joy as he never lost that spring in his step even as he reached the age of 95.
In the early part of this century Manley returned to France with his fellow World War II soldiers as they paid an emotional visit to the Beaches of Normandy where Manley was a member of the 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, jumping out of a burning plane just before it crashed.
Manley survived while 13 of his buddies died. He would go on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge while his twin brother Roland was killed during the war from friendly fire over the Mediterranean Sea.
Manley spent the rest of his life passing along his passion for living to others.
Manley returned to Normandy in 2005, and and again in 2007 with The Greatest Generations Foundation. He will be missed by so many.
“Every Day is Memorial Day” The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation Web:www.TGGF.org
AMERICA REMEMBERS - World War II veteran Bob Maxwell, the nation’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient, has died in Oregon more than seven decades after grabbing a blanket and throwing himself on a German hand grenade in France to save his squad mates. He was 98.
Born on Oct. 26, 1920, in Boise, Idaho, Maxwell was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. Though he was a Quaker, he declined conscientious objector status and entered the service in Colorado.
Maxwell earned the nation's highest military honor while fighting in Besancon, France, on Sept. 7, 1944, the newspaper reported. The bomb severely injured him, but the blanket saved his life by absorbing some of the impact.
He was also awarded two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and two French combat awards — the French Croix de Guerre and the Legion d'Honneur — for his service in World War II.
"Every Day is Memorial Day" The Greatest Generations Foundation Web: www.TGGF. org
AMERICA REMEMBERS – Its with great sadness, we learn the news that World War II Hero Mr. Van K. Mefford has died. He was 94.
He was among the Greatest Generation, serving in the “Stalwart and Strong” 87th Acorn Infantry Division of General George Patton’s 3rd Army, during World War II.
When he enlisted at the age of 19, he promised that the sacrifices he made would never be in vain. Whenever in his presence, you knew you were surrounded by integrity and strength. It wasn’t until later in his life that he was willing to share the experiences that made him this way.
Van and his unit, the 345th Infantry Brigade, were involved in combat operations throughout Europe, precisely the costliest action the US fought, the Battle of the Bulge. Van was wounded while crossing the Rhine River on March 24, 1945. According to Van’s account, “We were caught in the crossfire for over five hours; an officer and an enlisted man were killed.
I was one of six wounded.” Van received the Purple Heart for his valor. He also received the Bronze Star, a Combat Infantry Badge, the European Theatre Medal Badge, the Army of Occupation (Germany) medal, World War II Victory Medal, Marksman Medals in Machine Gun, Rifle, and Pistol as well as the US Army Good Conduct Medal.
After returning from the war, Van enrolled at the University of Illinois via the GI Bill. He earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and retired from Borg-Warner 30 years later. Van enjoyed retirement by continuously traveling and volunteering for others. Van had a passion for motorcycles and was active through various motorcycle organizations, including the American Motorcycle Association and the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.
Thankfully, Van was an avid writer and records keeper. His letters and notes are preserved and stand as witness to atrocities of war and the Holocaust. He listed the names of every one of his buddies he lost and truly dedicated all his good deeds in life to them.
He often would say, “Who gave their lives so that we may live.” In 2000 Van also recorded himself sharing his entire World War II story on tape. He leaves behind a loving family of 6 children, 16 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. Van is buried at the Rock Island National Cemetery.
The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation “Where Every Day is Memorial Day” Web: www.TGGF.org
AMERICA REMEMBERS - Stanley Hwalek, believed to be the last survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor in the Rochester area, died earlier this month at age 99, 77 years after his brush with death on the deck of the USS Nevada.
Hwalek was born in 1920 and enlisted in the Navy in September 1938 after graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School. Three years later he had what must have seemed like a plum assignment as a coxswain on a ship stationed in Hawaii.
For the rest of his life, Hwalek would recount the story of Dec. 7, 1941: he was on deck reading a newspaper after breakfast when he noticed smoke coming from nearby Ford Island.
At first, he thought it was a training exercise. Then the call went out for all hands to battle stations. He tucked into a small turret on the ship's starboard side and listened, shocked, in the darkness, as the Japanese war planes blasted away.
He remained in the Navy through the end of the war, escorting convoys and seeking out German submarines in the Atlantic Ocean on the USS Card before returning home in 1945 to the Polish community in northeast Rochester where he'd grown up. He married Gertrude Wroblewska in 1948 and went to work for DuPont for 36 years before retiring in 1982.
“Every Day is Memorial Day” The Greatest Generations Foundation