. . Howard Pfeifer had never heard of the Merchant Marines when a cousin in the Navy advised him to join in 1943. “You know you’re going to be drafted, and you’ll go wherever they need you,” he said. But, in the Merchant Marines, Howard could call his own shots. Eager
. . Eugene M. McShane is a native of Stonington, Connecticut. During WWII he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and trained as a forward artillery observer. During the allied invasion of Normandy, he landed on Omaha Beach (Dog Red zone) as part of the second wave, June 7, 1944 (D+1).
. . Peter J. Maurin entered the US Navy on June 30, 1942. He was aboard a LST 313 that was sunk during the invasion of Sicily. After returning to the United States, he redeployed to Europe and participated in the invasion of Normandy aboard a hospital ship. 97,
. . Norm Waldman has the distinction of being a D-Day paratrooper, a survivor of the Dresden firebombing, and a veteran of the Ukrainian Red Army. His story began when he joined the army in 1943 at the age of 18. He volunteered for the airborne for the extra pay. He
. . Henry Parham served with the 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only all-black unit to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Henry served in a segregated army, where African Americans were treated as second-class citizens. But to this native of Greenville, Virginia, segregation in the military
. . Joe Zimbicki grew up in Heidelberg, Pennsylvania. During the Great Depression his dad was a moonshiner and spent time in prison. As soon as he could, Joe began working to support his nine brothers and sisters. Shipping off to a CCC camp in the northern woods near Williamsport was
. . Vittorio Zippi grew up the son of Italian immigrants in Crabtree, Pennsylvania, learning to speak English in first grade. Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the Army—serving as a cook, musician, medic, and barber. “Would you shoot the Italians?” asked the Army. “Hell
. . Michael T. Vernillo was born on April 6, 1919 in Burgettstown, PA. He was the oldest of three sons born to Dominic and Julia Muscato Vernillo. Both of his parents immigrated to the United States from Italy. His father worked for most of his adult life as a crossing
. . Bob Hilinski Bob Hilinski entered the US Navy in July 1943. He served in the engine room aboard an amphibious landing craft and participated in the Normandy invasion; landing at Omaha Beach. After leaving the Navy in 1945, he was called back to duty to serve in Korea.
. . Warren Goss Warren G. Goss entered the US Army in 1943 where he served as a rifleman fighting in Europe and participating in the Normandy invasion. Mr. Goss was a member of the 531st Special Brigade, which was one of the earliest units to land at Utah Beach. In
. . Frank Gervasi Frank Gervasi fought with the Army during WW II. Many soldiers had it rough during the war, but few men had to endure the intensity of combat for as long as Frank Gervasi. After three invasions and 300 days on the front lines of North Africa,
. . Albert Crawford On December 7, 1941, 17-year-old Al Crawford asked his father if he could join the Navy. His father’s response was swift: “One less mouth to feed.” Those five words launched Al’s long military career. In WWII, Al served on the USS Swivel (ARS-36), which saw duty
. . Ray Book Standing 5”10” tall and weighing just 119 pounds at age 18, Ray Book was considered too thin by the Marines, so he enlisted in the Army in March 1943 and chose artillery training. Ironically, it wouldn’t be long before he was shouldering a 50-caliber machine gun