WWII

The Greatest Generation — Dad’s photos with ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines — Pacific Theater

Charles D. Brodhead (enlisted as a Private and left service as a Sergeant)

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my father’s passing, and also, of far less significance, the 6th anniversary of this blog. I started it with him in mind, knowing how much family history meant to him. It’s a shame he has not been here to help me fill in pieces I can’t quite pull together or celebrate the discoveries I make with me. But I know he is here in spirit, and, perhaps, it was he who steered my hands last week toward a faded and plain, nondescript envelope containing the below photos from early on in his service during WWII. As you may recall from a past post, he served in A Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. It looks like the photos were all taken on Guadalcanal except one, a view of Samoa.

Pacific Theater – WW II – 1941-1945 (Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

The photos are an amazing find. I was especially delighted to see the faces of a few of the men my Dad spoke so highly of while I was growing up, especially 1st Sgt Frank DaVanon. So this post and the photos are dedicated to Dad (Charles D. Brodhead), these men, and all the others who served alongside him.

I have included all of his captions (Thank you, Dad!) both on the images and written out separately below so that search engines can find them. Perhaps someone ‘out there’ will find a photo of their greatest generation family member. And if you recognize someone, please feel free to leave a comment below.  Thank you, and Happy Easter, All.

I am repeating the captions below so that search engines can pick them up for any family members who may be searching for their servicemen.

Photo 1: “A” Company specialists at Guadalcanal. Front row left to right: Grier, Co. Property Sgt; Stein, cook; Coleman, runner; DeMarco, Asst. Property Sgt; Rear row left to right: Black, buglar; Butkiewicz, jeep driver; Edwards, signalman; Fiands, cook

Photo 2: Some of ‘A’ Company men with Japanese flag at Guadalcanal, 1943.
Front (left to right): Rothberg, Gresko, Standley, and Wilshere Rear (left to right): 1st Sgt DaVanon, Tezack, Wilson, and Urbanovitch

Photo 3: ‘A’ Co. group at Guadalcanal, 1943: Front (left to right): Murphy, Vaught, Morris, and Callentine Rear (left to right): Morris, Phillips, Kaier, and Thornton

Photo 4: ‘A’ Company Staff NCOs and company commander after Bougainville operation, 1943.
Front (left to right): Gunnery Sgt Rowley; Captain C.F. Quilici; and Gunnery Sgt Urbanavitch
Standing (left to right): Gunnery Sgt Wilson; 1st Sgt DaVanon; and Platoon Sgt Morris

Photo 5: ‘A’ Co. 1st Bn, 3rd Marines – Group of Mortar and Machine Gun Sections, Taken at Guadalcanal after Bougainville operation, 1943 Front (left to right): Fansler, mortar squad leader; Low, mortar gunner; Watson, mortar gunner; and Cort, machine gunner Rear (left to right): Logan, machine gunner; Trott, machine gunner; Rowley, Gunnery Sgt; Colarulli, machine gunner; and Brown, machine gunner

Photo 6: ‘A’ Co. after Bougainville operation, 1943. Sorting accumulated mail and Christmas packages.
Foreground, sitting, 1st Sgt DaVanon; Kneeling, back to camera, Brodhead (Dad)

Photo 7: Taken at Guadalcanal before Bougainville operation, in front of property storage tent.
Front (left to right): Teofilo Romero (killed at Bougainville); Grier; and Rice
Standing (left to right): DeMarco, Steger, and Fiands

Photo 8: On beach at Guadalcanal, 1943. Some of the ‘A’ Co. gang. Note palm trees torn by shellfire.

Photo 9: Pvt. Charles D. Brodhead, US Marines Sept 1943, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands

Photo 10: Islanders fishing

Photo 11: Guadalcanal, 1943: Sgt. H.B. Grier and a couple of natives

Photo 12: Samoa, 1942

Photo 13: Gunnery Sgt W.W. Wilson, Jr. and BoBo (an orphaned native boy of Guadalcanal)
Photo taken in 3rd Division bivouac area in Lever Bros. coconut plantation.

Photo 14: Guadalcanal, 1943. 1st Sgt DaVanon and two natives.

Photo 15: Photo taken on beach at Guadalcanal showing members of ‘A’ Co., 1st Bn, 3rd Marines digging foxholes of

Categories: Bougainville, Brodhead, Guadalcanal, WWII | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pvt. Samuel Kendall Angus (b. 1918) – killed in Italy on 28 July 1944

Angus_WWII_obit_EDJ

Among my grandmother’s belongings: A news clipping that most likely appeared in the Elizabeth Daily Journal, end of July/August 1944

Among my grandmother’s collection of news clippings was this small mention of the death of Pvt. Samuel Kendall Angus from bullet wounds received in the line of duty somewhere in Italy on 28 July 1944. Samuel enlisted in the Army in February 1942, and served with Headquarters Battery, 13th Field Artillery Brigade. He was buried in Florence American Cemetery outside of Florence, Italy. For links to his grave information, click: Find a Grave and American Battle Monuments Commission.

Samuel was the grandson of Job Winans Angus whose “letters from Texas” and obituary notice appear elsewhere in this blog. Samuel had one sibling named Betty. The two were the children of Grace Kendall and Rev. Harry Baremore Angus, an ordained Presbyterian minister who died of influenza on 30 April 1919 at the young age of 35. Grace, who incidentally lived to be 100, and daughter Betty must have been terribly devastated by Samuel’s loss. And I’m sure it sent shock-waves through the extended family, especially given the fact that some of Samuel’s cousins were also still in service, in harm’s way.

Thank you, Samuel Kendall Angus, for your service and for paying the ultimate sacrifice for our country. You are remembered and deeply appreciated.

Update 3/11/17:

I found a mention of Kendall in a letter written by Lavinia Angus Marthaler (his grandfather’s sister) to my grandmother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead. The letter was dated 29 Dec 1943: …I received a “V” from Kendall this Monday, from Italy, written Dec. 1.

Navy Junior Reserve Officers Corps cadets from Naples American High School prepare to lay flowered wreathes at the Tablets of the Missing in The Florence American Cemetery as part of Veterans Day ceremonies in Florence, Italy, Nov. 11, 2011. The tablets are inscribed with 1,409 names of U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen that have been missing in action since World War II. The cemetery is the final resting place for 4,402 American service members killed during the Italian Campaign. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Queen

Wikimedia Commons – no copyright restrictions – released by US government – “Navy Junior Reserve Officers Corps cadets from Naples American High School prepare to lay flowered wreathes at the Tablets of the Missing in The Florence American Cemetery as part of Veterans Day ceremonies in Florence, Italy, Nov. 11, 2011. The tablets are inscribed with 1,409 names of U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen that have been missing in action since World War II. The cemetery is the final resting place for 4,402 American service members killed during the Italian Campaign. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Queen”

== Summary == The Florence American World War II Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy. From the [http://www.abmc.gov American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) web site] per their [http://www.abmc.gov/copyright.php copyright info]. [[Category:American Ba

The Florence American World War II Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy.  US government image – no copyright restrictions – public domain

Contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Vignaccia76 - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Florence American Cemetery – Contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Vignaccia76 – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

 {{flickr| |title=DCP_3156 |description=American soldier cimitery, Tavarnuzze, Italy |photographer=Hannes Reich |photographer_location= |photographer_url=http://flickr.com/photos/ern |flickr_url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/ern/51062188/ |taken=2005-10-09 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Wikimedia Commons – American soldier cemetery, Tavarnuzze, Italy |photographer=Hannes Reich |url=http://flickr.com/photos/ern |flickr_url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/ern/51062188/ |taken=2005-10-09; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Categories: Angus, Death, Florence American Cemetery Italy, Obituaries, Presbyterian, WWII | Tags: , | 6 Comments

In memory of WWII US Army Captain Henry D. Wirsig

George Keller, Henry Wirsig, and Charles Brodhead

George Keller, Henry Wirsig, and Charles Brodhead

This photo on the right supposedly stood on my grandmother’s dresser many years ago, and I’d seen it off and on through the years, when leafing through a family album, always wondering who the gentleman in the middle was. Well, a week ago, I was going through an old bundle of letters, containing correspondence between my grandmother and grandfather, Fannie and Frank Brodhead, and a US Army Captain named Henry Wirsig. As I leafed through the letters, out fell a smaller version of this photo, and I immediately understood that this fellow in the middle was Henry.

The letters and postcards from Henry were sweet and thoughtful, almost always ending in “Love, Henry” or “Love to All, Henry”, and the one letter I found from my grandparents to him was signed “Love, Ma and Pa Brodhead”.

I later learned that Henry was born in 1914, so he was two years younger than my Dad’s brother Woody and seven years younger than my Dad (Charles). My Dad enlisted in spring 1942, and I believe this photo must have been taken around July 1942 as that was his last time home until November 1944.

Henry’s letters always inquired about Woody, my Dad, and ‘grandma’ (a reference to my grandfather’s mother Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead, by then in her eighties), so Henry must have been a very close family friend. Where did they meet? Well, through subsequent research, I think it may have been through the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth (NJ), as Henry and my Dad’s family were all members there.

'Ma and Pa Brodhead'

‘Ma and Pa Brodhead’

As I read along, the letters all saved in chronological order, I was shocked to come upon a March 1945 letter from Henry’s mother to my grandmother, revealing gut-wrenching news—confirmation that Henry had been killed in action on December 17, 1944, at the onset of the Battle of the Bulge, a major German offensive campaign that began on 16 December 1944 and lasted until 25 January 1945, and resulted in a staggering 89,500 American casualties. Suddenly this photo took on extremely deep and personal meaning. I can’t begin to imagine how this crushing news must have devastated everyone who knew and loved Henry.

The website Battle of the Bulge Memories contains the recollections of a veteran who participated in that day’s events, and he describes the events leading up to Henry’s death. To read this riveting account, which is tough to read at times, click here.

Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, March 17, 1945

Elizabeth Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, March 17, 1945

The Elizabeth Daily Journal published an obituary notice on March 17, 1945; it provided me with more details on Henry’s background. To paraphrase the obituary notice:

Captain Henry D. Wirsig, of Union, NJ (formerly of Elizabeth, NJ) died in Bastogne, Luxembourg, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a member of the Ninth Armored Division. Prior to his death, he had been serving as acting mayor of Luxembourg. He was 31 years old.

Capt. Wirsig was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, and graduated from the University of Syracuse. He enlisted in 1942, leaving behind a chemical engineering position with Standard Oil Development Company. He had joined the company as a student intern in 1936.

He was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps and began active duty as a lieutenant. At Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, in October 1942, he was promoted to Captain. He also trained in the California desert, Camp Cook (CA), Fort Knox (KY) and Camp Polk (LA). [My grandparents received a number of postcards from these places.]

Captain Wirsig was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth, NJ. He married Mabel Dorothy Painter of Elizabeth, NJ, on April 5, 1940, and had two children, Kenneth and Jean. He was the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl F. Wirsig, and brother of Stanley S. Wirsig and Paul O. Wirsig.

**********************************************

I was very pleased to discover that Henry’s resting place has been memorialized on the Find a Grave site. He was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Liège, Belgium. I submitted a ‘photo’ and ‘biography’ to Find a Grave, and am happy to see that they have since been included in his memorial page (to view, click here).

Below is Henry’s last postcard to my grandparents.  My grandmother’s last letter to him, affectionately signed ‘Love, Ma and Pa Brodhead’ was written on January 9, 1945. She had no idea he was already gone.

It’s heart-breaking to think of all that Henry and his family lost on that tragic December day nearly 70 years ago.

Henry made the ultimate sacrifice in the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. I thank him and his family for bearing this awful burden so that others could live in freedom.

Henry's last mailing, a postcard, to my grandparents; such a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Henry’s last mailing, a postcard, to my grandparents; Franciscan Convent in Marienthal, Luxembourg—such a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Written 16 days before Henry's death

Written 16 days before Henry’s death

Links:
American Battle Monuments Commission

PBS American Experience – Interviews with Bulge Veterans

Fields of Honor database

“Infantry & Tanks near Bastogne”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – Battle of the Bulge – Members of the 44th Armored Infantry, supported by tanks of the 6th Armored Division, move in to attack German troops surrounding Bastogne, Belgium (31 Dec 1944)

Categories: Battle of the Bulge, Brodhead, Elizabeth, Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, New Jersey, Wirsig, WWII | 7 Comments

Beware of fading inscriptions

Not trying to panic anyone, but it’s good to remember that—over time—pencil and ink photo inscriptions can fade and become lost forever. Here’s one I just managed to salvage: my dad Charles Brodhead pictured with some of his Marine Corps buddies (Company A, 3rd Marine Division) on the island of Guam, 1944.  A bit of “Photoshopping” helped me pull out almost all that remains of his writing. Thanks to Dad for writing this down, we know who these good-looking young guys from the Greatest Generation were. Thank heavens we caught the fading inscription in time!

Reading from left to right standing: Northrop, Bob Palmer, yours truly, and Cal Downey from Cranford [NJ]. Kneeling from left to right: Jensen and Toney. Our eyes were focused on Lieutenant Waszak. Northrop is from NY state; Bob Palmer from Van Wert, Ohio; Jensen from NY state and Toney from NY State. With all my love for ….. from your … son Charles

 

Guam, August 1944

Guam, August 1944

Photo_description
Photo_description

Categories: Brodhead, Guam, WWII | 2 Comments

Pop’s WW II Service

Brodhead_Charles_Marines

Company A, 3rd Marines, New River, NC, Aug. 1942

Much to his parents’ chagrin, my dad enlisted in the Marines in 1942. He left home in July of that year (see photo taken below on July 4, 1942), and one month later, he was headed toward the Pacific, not to return home again until November 1944, two-and-a-half years later. But, thank God, he returned. So many of his buddies did not.

He served with Company A, 3rd Marine Division. Above is a very large photo of his company taken in New River, NC, prior to their departure to California and then onwards to New Zealand and finally the Pacific theater of operations. My dad, age 21 and looking very skinny at the time, can be seen standing in the first row of the company photo, on the far right. Because he had extremely good typing skills (120+ wpm), he was tasked with additionally serving as the company’s secretary for the commanding officers. Part of that was helping to keep track of all those sick, killed, wounded, discharged, transferred, and MIA. He noted on the company photo in red ink what became of some of his fellow Marines. Unfortunately, I am not sure what his abbreviations stand for.

Honorable Discharge

Honorable Discharge

During his service with the Marines, he attained the rank of Sargent and was honorably discharged on Nov. 25, 1945. My dad was very proud of his military service, and rightly so, though he rarely spoke of it. He did keep in touch with a few buddies over the years, exchanging Christmas cards and occasional letters, but there were never any reunions.

New Zealand made a great impression on him, and he always wanted to return there some day. He made friends with a family there that he maintained contact with for many years. Samoa was also a highlight. Another family befriended him there and gave him a beautiful tapa cloth which was displayed prominently in our home growing up. They also corresponded for a while but eventually lost touch.

Pacific Theater - WW II - 1941-1945 (Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

Pacific Theater – WW II – 1941-1945 (Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin)

Company A, 3rd Marine Division:
August 1 to October 25, 1943: Under Japanese aerial bombardment at Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands
November 1, 1943 to December 25, 1944: Participated in the capture and defense of Bougainville, British Solomon Islands
July 21 to August 15, 1944, Participated in the capture of Guam, Participated in the consolidation of the Solomon Islands.
February 25 to April 4, 1945: Iwo Jima

Dad received a 30-day furlough home in November 1944 and spent Christmas 1944 with family. He then received orders to remain in Quantico, VA, for six months. He ended up staying there until his discharge.

Furlough notice, probably clipped from the Elizabeth Daily Journal, Nov/Dec 1944

Furlough notice, probably clipped from the Elizabeth Daily Journal, Nov/Dec 1944

A summary of the 3rd Division’s service can be found here.
More on the capture of Guam can be found here.
For an Iwo Jima chronology, click here.
For more Pacific Theater links, click here.

To view photos in the Gallery in an enlarged format, click on any one of them and then use the arrows to view them as a slide show.

Categories: Bougainville, Brodhead, Guadalcanal, Guam, Solomon Islands, WWII | 2 Comments

From Boys to Men

These two photos are precious, and when placed side by side, even more so. Charles Brodhead–son of Frank M. Brodhead and Fannie Woodruff–is pictured together with his cousin Richard “Dick” Brown, son of Dr. G. Carlton Brown and Wealthy Mildred Woodruff (“Aunt Mil”). The second photo was taken on July 4, 1942, Charles’s last time home until November 1944. He went overseas with the U.S. Marines (Pacific theater) a month after this photo was taken.

Mid-1920s: Charles Brodhead with "Pete" on the left, and Dick Brown on the right

Mid-1920s: Charles Brodhead with “Pete” on the left, and Dick Brown on the right

Charles Brodhead with cousin Dick Brown (their moms were Fannie Woodruff Brodhead and Mildred Woodruff Brown)

Charles Brodhead with cousin Dick Brown (their moms were Fannie Woodruff Brodhead and Mildred Woodruff Brown)

Categories: Brodhead, Brown, Woodruff, WWII | Leave a comment

With Gratitude for Our Veterans

On this Veteran’s Day, we give thanks for all our nation’s veterans, including those in our own family. I’m sure I have not gotten them all listed below, but I will add more as I come across them. As you’ll see there are quite a number who served in the Revolutionary War.

And more of some of our family’s veterans:

Revolutionary War

  • Col. Samuel Crow
  • Captain Martinus Westbrook, 3rd Reg. Sussex Co. NJ Militia
  • Pvt. Shubael Trowbridge, Capt. James Keene’s Company, Eastern Battalion, Morris County Militia, also known as “The Rams Horns Brigades”
  • Andrew Dingman
  • Isaac Neumann, Westchester Co. NY
  • Lt. Garret Brodhead
  • Norman Easton
  • Hezekiah Hand
  • Capt. Samuel Drake, served in Captain Jacob Stroud’s company
  • David Wait, Scottish Immigrant

War of 1812

  • Garret Brodhead
  • Hon. Richard Brodhead (1771-1843)

Mexican-American War

  • James W. Angus

Civil War

  • Moses Martin, Company I, NJ 28th Infantry Regiment
  • Pvt. Uzal Trowbridge, Company A, 1st NJ Infantry; killed in action at Gaines’s Mill
  • Pvt. Henry Augustine Trowbridge, Company C, NJ 14th Infantry NJ Volunteers
  • John Barron Jaques Jr., Drummer, Company I, 40th Regiment New Jersey
  • Charles B. Jaques, Assistant Surgeon, Company F & S, 7th Regiment New Jersey
  • William Trewin, clerk, Union Army War Office

World War I

  • William R. Boles

 

Categories: Civil War, Mexican-American, Revolutionary War, Veteran's Day, War of 1812, World War I, WWII | Leave a comment

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