Brigadier General Charles M. Ankcorn was retired from active duty in December 1944 and died in 1955 at sixty-two.
Richard A. Bashore died in 1987.
Richard G. Beech 's last known address was in Reading, Pennsylvania, but my letter was unanswered. He died in 1991.
William Belleman is reported to have married, remained in the Army for a hitch or two as an investigator and spent most of the rest of his career as a detective with the Baltimore Police Department. He died sometime before 1978.
The Reverend Alison R. Bryan served as pastor of several Presbyterian churches in New Jersey and New York before his retirement. After the death of his wife Marion in 1973 he married Edith Fargo of Frenchtown, New Jersey, where he lived until 1992, nine days after his 101st birthday. He was the third-oldest living graduate of Princeton.
William R. Caird was a telephone company installer and equipment tester until his retirement to Unionville, Connecticut, with his wife, Marion, who had a daughter by a previous marriage. Bill died in 2005 at ninety-one.
Major General John H. Church , while Assistant Division Commander of the 84th Division, was wounded for the third time in February 1945 heading Task Force Church, which spearheaded for several days the drive of the Ninth Army into the Rhine Valley. Chief of the U.S. Military Advisory Commission at the outbreak of the Korean War, he took over the 24th Division in 1950 when his predecessor was captured. In 1951 he assumed command of the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia, retiring in 1952. He died in 1953 at sixty-one.
His World War I Distinguished Service Cross citation: "Knocked down and rendered unconscious by the explosion of a shell early in the attack on Cantigny, he staggered forward as soon as he regained consciousness and insisted upon resuming command, thereby giving a striking example of fortitude to his men."
Jose G. Contreras died in 1968.
Harold R. Dibble , an accountant with Uniroyal Chemical in Connecticut, lived with his wife, Grace, in Waterbury. They had four sons. He died in 2000 at eighty after a long illness.
Vernon Dilks : "I had 110 points, enough to fly home instead of takin' the boat, and what'd they do but bring back that damn Fifth Division that was in Iceland all through the war-only casualties they had was when they fought each other-and they accumulated all those points just settin' there five or six years, and hell, they took all the airplane seats." Vern was a house painter in Sarasota, Florida, when I found him with his wife Kathryn in 1978, but I've lost track of them.
James J. Dowdall worked for the Post Office at LaGuardia Airport in New York for twenty-six years until his retirement in 1973. He signed without reading my release-for-publication form for interviewees. At ninety-five, nearly blind and looked in on by his adoring family, Jimmy lives an avuncular bachelor's life and relives the days of the Ironheads in his family home in Jackson Heights, New York.
Gareth W. Dunleavy : "As I grow older the whole experience seems somehow to get more important, and I have more time to think about it than in the first thirty years when I was too busy getting my career established. I don't feel bad about the whole thing and suppose I have a bit of pride that I did it and came out unscathed more or less, and that I did it for reasons that might not have been very good but that were at the time something I felt I had to do." He retired as Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, where his second wife Janet was also a professor and where he was chairman of the Department of English and an internationally recognized and widely published authority on medieval and Irish literature, with a special interest in Chaucer and Joyce. The Dunleavys were awarded first-ever man-and-wife Guggenheim Fellowships for study in France, coauthored Douglas Hyde: A Maker of Modern Ireland (Berkeley, CA, 1991), and moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, where Janet died in 2000 and Gareth in 2004 at eighty-one. He had a son and daughter by his first marriage, a stepdaughter with his second.
Ernest Fried 's whereabouts are unknown.
George P. Furber was a pawnbroker in Houston, Texas. He died in 1996 at seventy-one.
Joseph Garland , MD retired from the practice of pediatrics in the Boston area in 1947 to become Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine , from which he retired in 1967. He was the author of numerous articles and several books on the practice and history of medicine for professional and lay readers, including a memoir, A Time for Remembering , and was awarded honorary degrees by Tufts University and Boston University and numerous international honors. He and the former Mira Crowell were married fifty years on September 20, 1971. In August of 1973 he died at eighty. My beloved mother followed him in May 1974. She was seventy-eight.
Lester Gerencer was working as a clean-up man and cutting-machine operator for Ingersoll Rand in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, in 1978, divorced, with three daughters, and hoping to retire in 1981 when I found him. No word since.
Delmar W. Griffith : "I never did presume to even speculate on the advisability of this or that maneuver in the war," he told me. "There were foul-ups for sure, but I was never enough of a strategist to be critical. The whole idea of fighting just got to be, well, what did we get out of it? The Vietnam War was a foolish undertaking, and unless it should come to a defensive war I just wonder if you can arouse the patriotism in the people like you could a generation ago. They didn't have to go to any great effort to indoctrinate a soldier to git in that fracas."
He and Sophie Prisner, a teacher, were married in 1951 and had two sons and a daughter. He had retired as a successful building contractor in Denver when I looked him up in 1978, and he was just as lean and angular and acerbic as ever, though betraying signs of mellowing around the edges. He died in 1985 at seventy-four after a long siege of Parkinson's disease.
André Joannon , after returning home from the I&R, got a job with the Army's Graves Registration combing the French countryside for dead G.I.s. Andy married Florence Montgolfier, a descendant of Pierre Montgolfier, the French papermaker whose sons, Jacques and Etienne, invented the balloon in 1783, retired from the management of his family wine dealership in Marseille and died in 2007.
Henry W. Johnson 's whereabouts are unknown.
Montford Locklear retired as a government communications technical expert in Dayton, Ohio, after forty-six years.
Frank E. Merchant was discharged after being hospitalized , from the Vosges with trench foot, and subsequently launched upon a varied career as journalist, publicist, author, poet and teacher. He retired in 1976 after sixteen years as a respected and maverick Professor of English at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, where he died in 1991 at eighty. His wife Christine and son Karl brought his ashes to Gloucester to be consigned to the deep from my boat. After an appropriate reading the container was dropped overboard but declined to sink, instead floating away as if wafted by the playful spirit of the departed, who could almost be heard to chuckle. Starting up my sloop's engine, I gave chase. We retrieved the floating box, opened it properly this time, and scattered Frank's earthly and earthy remains to the Atlantic on the shores of which he had spent many a joyful day in his youth.
Henry G. Mills returned to Altoona, Pennsylvania, to a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad as fireman on a steam locomotive, then worked up from lineman to foreman with the municipal electric company. "One thing about bein' a lineman, when you're up on top o' the pole yer the boss. We had an old sayin' that you don't put things on a pole and make it look like a pitchfork full o' hay. I could have very easily paid for a much better home, and had what I wanted, than live where I do now. Jean Marie and I had to make the decision: Do we buy ourselves a big, fancy house or do we dress our kids [three girls and a boy] the way we want 'em dressed and feed 'em the way we want 'em fed and educate 'em the way we want 'em educated? We can't do both, and when my kids was growin' up they always knew their mother was home." Having survived two coronary bypass operations several years apart, Hank retired with Shirley, his second wife, whom he married after the death of Jean Marie in 1987. He died in 2001 at seventy-eight.
Valen J. Mullenax , while taking a variety of correspondence courses ranging from engineering to physics, journalism, philosophy, psychology, economics, law and Bible history, worked in the postwar years variously as a carpenter, attendant nurse in a mental institution, stitcher, shipping clerk, millwright, machinist, security guard and other pursuits, mainly in the West and Midwest. By the time of our 1982 reunion he had become proprietor of Metaphysical Science and Design Drafting Services in Denver and was offering classes in Revelatory Religion of Reality and Mind Power Dynamics. He wrote me after the reunion that he was composing "the Philosophy and Doctrine for the Revelatory Religion of Reality which is based on the true life and teachings of Jesus and scientific facts, as we know them today. So you see I have my work cut out for me, and some opposition also, as some people do not like to face the truth." Our One-Man Army died in 1985 at seventy-two.
Charles E. Nye : "Hard to remember when you're tryin' to forget." Shorty (or Chuck) worked in production for Autolite in Fostoria, Ohio. After Chucky Joe (Charles, Jr.), he and Madge had two more boys. He retired to Lake Placid, Florida, where he died in 1991 at seventy-five.
David J. O'Keefe after the war trained as a draftsman with the Farrell manufacturing company in Connecticut and was in charge of its plant maintenance in Rochester, New York. He and Katie had three sons and two daughters. She died in 1985. He retired with his second wife, Christine, to Marston Mills on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he died in 2001 at eighty-three.
Emmett H. Oman died in 1975.
Jack T. Pullman : "Back in the States," Jack told me, "I thought about going to school but was too lazy, went to New York and loafed around, then to Birmingham, Alabama, and back home to Kansas for a few months, then out to Denver. Got married and took on two stepdaughters and had to go to work for a year and a half in Colorado with the Climax Molybdenum Company, from there to Oklahoma for my in-laws making nitroglycerine. Went up to Tri-State Oil Fill in Illinois and made nitro and shot wells for five years. Due to a technological breakthrough they no longer had to use nitro to raise oil from the rocks, so went back to Climax for another nine years doing construction, timbering, training new hands. Then in light construction for myself in the Leadville area. Divorced in '69. Had a daughter, Virginia, and a son Jack, who was in a destroyer for three tours off 'Nam, and like us, 'got to see the elephant.' Left Colorado and moved back to Kansas and bought a few houses, fixed 'em up and sold 'em. Eventually tired of that, married Wilma in Kansas City and gained three stepsons, then went to work there for the city as a building inspector, and more or less semi-retirement since then."
Wilma died in 1979. The following year Jack married Hazel Coe, who died in 1996. He made his home with his daughter Ginny in Kansas City and died after a long illness in 1999 at seventy-eight.
Harry H. Ramge died in Lima, Ohio, in 1970 at sixty-nine.
Cyril H. Reynolds , whereabouts unknown.
Robert Richardson , whereabouts unknown.
Morris Rosenwasser worked and saved and parlayed his twenty-five a week into his own farm with three thousand chickens. He and his New Yorker wife, Florence, had two sons, worked and borrowed and parlayed it all into the Duane apartment motel in Miami Beach in 1981, to which he issued an open invitation to any of his liberators in I Company to be his guests and where I interviewed him. Regrettably we've lost touch.
Henry F. Siaud was recruited by André as an interpreter with the Army's Graves Registration unit locating the bodies of American soldiers. Back in "civilian" life he worked for twenty-five years as a maritime shipping agent, then another sixteen likewise for an international chemical company before retiring to Marseille in 1990 with his wife Roselyne. Hank and "Lily" had four daughters and a son. Our beloved French buddy died at eighty-one in 2006 after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease.
D. Douglass Studebaker sold newspaper advertising, life insurance and real estate, mainly in Colorado, forming his own small company in industrial sales before moving to Alaska, where he had charge of recreational facilities for the Sohio Alaska Petroleum Company's facility at Prudhoe Bay. Doug and Thora Louise Rose eloped in 1942. They had four daughters and a son. He retired to their home in Anchorage. Thora died in 1996, just short of their fifty-fifth anniversary. Doug "hangs on" at eighty-five with his family nearby.
Robert Thatcher 's whereabouts are unknown.
Dominick M. Trubia married Lucretia Piraino from his hometown in 1946. Aspiring to a career in teaching, he found he could make twice as much bartending. They had three children while he sold life insurance in the South, then returned to Perry, New York, where he got his teaching degree in 1962. Dom was the most beloved mentor in the Perry public schools when he retired in May, 1978, due to ill health. When I traveled to Perry to interview him that September he was gaunt from the cancer he'd been battling for years, but the old zest shone through. He died the following April at fifty-five.
Philipp F. Vollhardt took early retirement in Redding, Connecticut, as an engineer in the aerospace industry, where he specialized in guidance systems and worked on the Hubble space telescope. He and Helen had five children. Their eldest, Philipp, went through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of Connecticut, was assigned to the infantry, trained with the 82nd Airborne Division and was sent to Vietnam, where the small unit he commanded was ambushed while on convoy on February 2, 1971, and he and a sergeant were killed by a rocket.
Helen: "Two men in uniform came to the door with the news. It took so long for Philipp's remains to come home. The children had planned a surprise party for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary on the seventeenth, and the surprise party was the funeral on the thirteenth. Saint Patrick's Church was packed; they were out on the steps. We got a letter he sent one of the neighbors, and at that point he wasn't enthralled with it anymore, felt we shouldn't be in Vietnam." Phil died in 2004 at eighty-four.
Jeremy R. Waldron joined his father's law firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, after his graduation from Harvard Law School, and retired in 1996. I was best man at his and Joan's wedding in 1961. They have a married daughter. A dedicated golfer and Rotarian, Jerry is an esteemed civic leader in Portsmouth and a founder of "Strawbery Banke," a national prototype of historic district preservation in the colonial downtown waterfront area. In 1995 my closest old buddy collapsed while giving a luncheon talk. He was revived twice after being pronounced clinically dead, underwent six-way cardiac bypass surgery, and thirteen years later claims his golf game is better than ever, notwithstanding (but perhaps partly on account of) a prior hip replacement. His faith and assistance in Unknown Soldiers have sustained me for sixty years.
Robert C. Winburn retired to his home in Overland Park, Kansas, after a career as a diesel mechanic with an interstate trucking company. He and Dorothea had two daughters. He died at sixty-nine on the fiftieth anniversary of D-day in 1994 after a year's bout with cancer.
Walter R. Wolff visited several of the Ironheads on a motorcycle after returning from the service and hasn't been heard from since.
William E. Woodhams worked at the Denver Mint after his return to Colorado, then for the Federal prison in Denver, where he had charge of much of the outdoor work for inmates, counseling and helping them develop skills they could use back on the outside. Bill had a daughter by his first marriage and a son by his late second wife, Selma. Retired since 1965, he died in Omaha, Nebraska, at eighty-seven in 1999. I wish I'd served with him.
Andrew M. Zapiecki : "When Rome was captured we were riding around in the jeep looking for someone to do our dirty clothes, and here's a little girl on a fence, and she says, 'Maybe, if you get soap. I'll ask my mother.' So the next day we came to pick 'em up, and here's Julie (her name was Juliana Agostini, and she was twenty) ironing my shirt, and damn if she didn't burn a hole in it."
But Andy didn't forget, and the next winter, after he was sent back from the I&R in the Vosges and reassigned to a motor pool in Rome, he commenced serious romancing. He and Julie were married in the fall of 1945, and he brought his war bride back to Toledo, Ohio.
"I went back to the American Can Company where a guy got me interested in the union, went to a few meetings, ran for secretary and won and in '47 ran for president and won. And I didn't have to work. If you were president you showed up for an hour or so and got paid for the whole job. My brother was working at the Post Office and said try it, so in '49 I took the exam- and got off the gravy train to go there and work, which at that time was rugged. So in three more years I get interested in the postal workers union, and ten years after, I'm still president. At the beginning, you say boo to the postmaster you get fired, so you could see how it progressed."
"Zapeck" retired in 1977 to grow tomatoes in his backyard patch in Toledo and maintain a commanding presence at the Polish neighborhood watering place he founded when he returned from Italy with his lovely Italian wife Julie. He called it the Commodore Club because that sounded good, and told uproarious stories about his fifty-five months in the Army at home and abroad. They had a son and two daughters. But he grew more obdurate as his health failed. They separated in 1989, and Andy died in 1993 at eighty.
Video of author and Dr. Jonathan Shay discussing the effects of PTSD on the creative process
Chapter 16: Dachau complete text and audio, with author and buddies' voices, now online
Chapter 6 complete text and audio, with author and buddies' voices
Chapter 5 complete text read by author, with buddies' voices