I absolutely love posting stories of WWII veterans who make the headlines in local newspapers. In this case, a high school friend posted a heartwarming story from a local CT news channel on facebook. Roy Rodrigues, 90 years old, received the purple heart for wounded received against an enemy while a member of the 8th Armored Division, attached to the 71st Infantry Division during WWII. The newsclip doesn’t really delve into the exact details, but the piece is moving and I thought it would make a nice addition to the site. Click the photo of Roy below to watch the video.
One of my favorite neighbors growing up was a member of the 31st Dixie Division and always took time to tell me about his experiences during the war. As I grew older, he told me some of the more intense stories of his time on Mindanao and of his being wounded while attacking a Japanese airport. Those memories have always stuck with me, and with those memories come an attachment to photographs from the 31st Division. It’s one of the hardest divisions to find on eBay and I was especially excited to find this set of 8 images listed as “(8) Vintage WWII photos / Happy American GI Soldiers with Names – Old Snapshots”.
My WWII patch radar went off when I recognized a portion of a 31st Division patch in one of the shots. I did quick searches on each of the soldiers and found a website for Mr. Fred B. Kearney of Kokomo, Indiana. The name matched with the town on the reverse of the photo and the writeup mentioned his service with the 31st Signal Company of the 31st Division during WWII. Bingo, my hunch was correct that this group was a portrait collection of soldiers of the Dixie Division.
Company members identified in the images include:
Fred Kearney of Kokomo, Indiana
It’s not often that I’m able to link an amateur still photograph with a professional moving film, but I’ve been able to do it here. In this particularly crisp shot, a member of the Anti-Tank Company of the 222nd Infantry Regiment snapped a shot of a group of Munich city officials and policemen surrendering in the main center of Munich. I thoroughly researched this set of images and was able to track down living members of the Company who remember the events in the images. A rare opportunity!
Here’s a video that captures this exact scene. http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675075225_German-officers_United-States-officers_conference_prisoners-marched-along-street
Please skip ahead to 00:44 to view the quick clip of this scene. Trucks of the 222nd Anti-Tank company can be seen escorting thousands of German POW’s in the next scene. I’ve included a screengrab for those of you who can’t view the video. The film was shot by Sgt. Fred Bornet, a well-known combat photographer who made recent news when he gave an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2004. Please check out this: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1914938