A War Fought by Unknown Heroes
Winston Churchill once said of World War Two that it was not a war of princes or chieftains, but of peoples and causes; a war fought by unknown heroes. Here we acknowledge the unknown heroes that Churchill was referring to as well; our fallen heroes as well as those that fought for our freedoms and returned with their memories. We remember and honour in our hearts the Allied heroes, war veterans and all the affected people, who valued freedom in their life above all else.
Click on the buttons below to view an alphabetical listing of Honorees, both living and passed. If you know of someone who should be recognized here, from any country, please contact us today!
James F. Pearson
PFC, Co. E, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division
7/19/1918 - 7/11/2015. Fought with Co. E, 315th Infantry Regiment, Loving husband and Father.
Richard T. Pell, Jr.
S/SGT, U. S. Army, Co. B, 313th Infantry, 79th Infantry Div
Purple Heart . Sgt. Richard T. Pell, Jr. participated in the Normandy Invasion, landing on Utah Beach in June 1944. He died July 14, 1944 of wounds received in battle taking Cherbourg. Submitted by Lucy Irene Pell Poland.
Alberto J. Pellegrino
79th Infantry Division
No additional information.
PFC, Co. K, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division
Purple Heart . On 11 January 1945, Company K of which PFC Petty was a member, was defending the town of Rittershoffen, France, against fierce enemy attacks. At about 0600 hours, after a devastating artillery barrage, the enemy’s tanks succeeded in enveloping their forward positions and the company was forced to withdraw to the center of town. When a reorganization was effected, it was discovered that PFC Petty was missing, nor could any information be gathered as to his whereabouts. It developed that he had been captured, and a letter from his widow indicates that both Jack and a buddy, Frank, were captured, and behind enemy lines, Jack was wounded by friendly fire. Frank carried Jack as they moved from place to place for two days, then the Germans took Jack to a hospital near Frankfurt where he ultimately died on 15 January 1945. He was initially buried at Rittershoffen, France, then repatriated and buried at Restland Cemetery in Gatesville, Texas.
Walter "Monday" Poniedzialek
Tech 5 (Corporal), US Army 540th Combat Engineer
Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), Expert Sniper-Rifle, European Theatre Ribbon with 5 bronze stars and bronze arrowhead, WWII Victory Medal, American Theatre Ribbon . Dad began his army stint at Fort Custer, MI in March of 1943. His campaigns included Naples/Salerno, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes/Alsace and Central Europe. His specialty was that of an auto-mechanic and he served in the motor pool and also as a motorcycle courier. He also acted as an infantryman and was in the heat of battle during the Ardennes/Alsace Campaign (Battle of the Bulge). Luckily throughout all his years of service, he was never once wounded.
I remember stories he used to tell when I was a little girl (he passed away when I was 12) and among them were the horrible months spent on the beaches of Anzio. Shelling went on day and night and things got so bad that they were forced to dig into the sand and to bury their trucks and other equipment in order to keep working and maintaining their machine shops.
The 540th were responsible for securing port and beach areas, providing support to front and rear line troops, building roads and bridges, clearing and laying mine fields, constructing and repairing railroads, clearing tunnels, using demolitions to clear ports and road obstructions, repairing and constructing facilities for hospital and POW camps & dumps and building and maintaining storage sites for ammo and supplies amongst other engineering projects.
The regiment had one of the longest, continuous service records of any unit in WWII. This period extended from the time they first landed on the shores of North Africa in November of 1942 until their deactivation in Germany in November of 1945. They were awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for their contribution to the Naples/Salerno Campaign and received the Unit Meritorious Service Award for their operation of the Port of Anzio.
To find more info on my father, the great 540th and their fellow engineers, please visit my site at www.6thcorpscombatengineers.com. Submitted by Marion J Chard, Proud daughter of a 540th Combat Engineer
Abraham I. Rakusin
Sergeant, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division
Purple Heart, Silver Star . Awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action against the enemy on 11 January 1945 in France. Remaining with the first gunner of his machine gun squad, Sergeant Rakusin raked the attacking enemy force, which consisted of a tank and supporting infantrymen, with fire from his machine gun. When the gunner was wounded by point blank fire from the tank, Sergeant Rakusin continued to fight alone, facing the fire of the enemy tank until he had killed or wounded all of the infantrymen, forcing the tank to withdraw. He then carried the wounded gunner from the flaming building, which was in imminent danger of collapse and returned to displace his weapon and ammunition to an alternate position. Due to the valiant actions of Sergeant Rakusin, a powerful enemy threat was eliminated.
John C. Rebarchek
Captain, US Army, E. Co., 8th Infantry, 4th Division
Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross . Nov 22, 1919 - Sep 10, 1995. John Rebarchek received his commission as a captain in 1944, just 4 years after he enlisted. However, it was as a lieutenant that he stormed up a vital hill above Cherbourg, France, leading his company of one hundred and twenty-five men to capture a three-hundred-man German stronghold. With only sixty men remaining, they took two hundred and twenty-eight German soldiers prisoner, leaving seventy dead. In a book written by his brother, he quotes John as saying, "My outfit was the famous Fourth Division. We were the first to hit the beach on D-Day, and were the first into Cherbourg. We were the first into Paris, and the first to break the Siegried line and pushed on into Germany." Back home in Graceton, Minnesota, he was known as the "Hero of Cherbourg". ~ Submitted by Janie Nuese (Rebarchek)
Vernon O. Reece
S/Sgt, US Army, Company A, 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division
Bronze Star (4), Purple Heart (2) . S/Sgt. Reece received basic training in October 1942 at Camp Blanding, Florida. In the spring of 1943, he participated in Tennessee maneuvers around Murfreesboro, Hoovers Gap, and Tullahoma,Tennessee. In the summer of 1943, he participated in desert manuveurs at Camp Laguna, Arizona. In the Fall and Winter of 43' and the early months of 44', he was located at Camp Phillips, Kansas. March of 1944 found him at Camp Miles Standish, New York. And then, on the 3rd day of April 1944, his 22nd birthday, he boarded the ship USS Cristobal, destination Liverpool, England. On the 12th day of June 1944, he landed on Normandy Beach, France. He received four bronze stars for Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, and the Rhineland. Oak leaf cluster with two purple hearts. He was a machine gun section leader. After the war he helped occupy Berlin, Germany for three months & was then sent back to the states & honorably discharged at Fort Knox, Kentucky on the 27th day of November, 1945. ~ Submitted by Vernon O. Reece
S/Private, US Army, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division
Purple Heart . 9 February 1918 - 27 November 1944. Born in Iowa. His parents Ralph and Etta were also both born in Iowa. His father worked as a farmer. Hollis had an older sister. Hollis married Betty Conaway on January 14, 1940. They had a son and a daughter. He was drafted into the army on 9 April 1944 and served as a private in the 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division. Pvt. Rider joined as a replacement, probably in late October when the 79th was pulled off the line to rest and refit. It was back in action in the Mignevine-Montiguy area in early November. Pvt. Rider was killed in action on 27 November 1944. His grave is at Garwin Union Cemetery, Garwin, Iowa.
SSGT, US Army, 390th 570th 13th Wing
Purple Heart . KIA 12/44 SSGT Paul Roberts was a Ball Turret Gunner on the B-17G "Blonde Bombshell". He flew 23 missions, his 23rd to be his last when she went down over her German target, in the surroundings of Diekirch, on Christmas Day, 1944. While in the lead plane position, she was hit with flak. 3 of the crew were able to evacuate the plane and spent the remainder of the war as POWs. ~ Submitted by Grandson, Gene Spanos