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Schmölln, Germany – Then and Now


The following are pictures of Schmölln, Germany, a town my Dad’s Infantry Company occupied in the waning days of World War II. The pictures from July of 1945 are from the photo album of Donald Katz, the Captain of Company I-304-76. The pictures from 2010 are from my nephew Dave Keefe, a US Marine who visited the town to honor his grandfather’s service in the War.

Note: Click on pics to see larger.

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The last two pics are of the mess hall. Here’s a close up shot with 1st Lieutenant Richard Keefe on the left (my Dad) and 2nd Lt. Jay Hamilton on the right.

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The lettering on the window states “International Casino” because their cook was a chinese-american.

Back in 2002 I interviewed Frank Mucedola, the Tech Sergeant for Company I’s 3rd Platoon, and he had this to add.

“I don’t know whether you can read what it says on the window or not but it says “Company I International Casino – Dine and Dance: $65.” The gimmick there was that regulations during that period of time were that the troops, meaning the American troops, could not fraternize with German women, or fraternize period, with any Germans – of course most of them were German women. Now, if you got caught fraternizing it cost you one month’s pay. Now the basic pay in those days for the private was 65 bucks. So my pay in those days was $114, so if I got caught I’d be fined $114. If you’re father got caught and his pay was $200, he got fined $200. So the private, his pay was $65, he got fined $65. So that was the gag “Dine and Dance $65”.


With Germany’s defeat, the German civilians in Schmölln considered themselves relatively fortunate to be in American hands, as towns east of Schmölln that were being overrun by the Russians were being devastated due to the a fierce hatred that existed between the two countries during those war years.

In 2003 the people of Schmölln installed a plaque in remembrance of the Americans who occupied their town that half century ago.

@2003 Charles Themar

For more on the plaque go to:
German City Honors 76th Infantry Division

To end with, here’s a Then and Now pic of Richard Keefe (1945) and his grandson, David Keefe (2007).

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To see the artwork of David Keefe, check out davidkeefe.net

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Veterans Day

In honor of Veterans Day, November 11, 2013,
some pics of family who have been in the service.


First off is a picture of my wife’s nephew, Sal and my nephew, Dave.
Veterans of the Iraq war.

Sal DiGiacomo (Air Force) and Dave Keefe (Marines) – 2006


Second, a pic of my brother-in-law, Kyle. A veteran of the Vietnam War.

Kyle
In a day where the rallying cry is “support our troops” it’s important to remember that, because of the uniquely divisive nature of the Vietnam War, the men and women returning home after serving their country after this war came back to a marked lack of support compared to the WWII and Korean War vets that preceded them. A debt of gratitude for their service is still owed to this generation.


Next up – newspaper clippings of my Father-in-law, Domenico Natoli (1928-2007).
A veteran of two wars from two different countries…

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The following is a video honoring my Dad
and the Infantry Company he served with during WWII.
Richard Keefe (1925-1992).


And last but not least, two pics with over 60 years between them…

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A heartfelt thanks to all veterans – old and new.

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Company I

Memorial Day: Robert Lee 1925-1945

During WWII my Dad, Richard Keefe, served in Company I, 304th Regiment of the 76th Division. A close friend of my Dad’s was Robert E. Lee, 1st Lieutenant, Company E. They went through Officer Candidate School together. The Mass card shown above is one my Dad kept with his personal belongings. For decades to follow my Dad would add his fallen friend’s name to the list of those to be Commemorated on All Souls Day.

What follows is an account from the Regiment history of his final moments. Robert Lee was 19 years old.


The rest period ended for the men at noon on the 1st of March when the troops were ordered to relieve the 3rd battalion southeast of Gilzem. Easy Company spear-headed the advance through this town, which was in friendly hands, and bore the brunt of the attack on Kunkelborn. Immediately after arriving at the front lines, E Company supported from the left rear, with G Company advancing through a draw northeast of the town.

The 3rd platoon was the assault element followed by the company weapons platoon and, as they approached, they ran into a hail of rifle fire. Lt. Robert E. Lee, (0551073) the weapons platoon leader, ordered the machine-gun section into action but, turning, discovered that he had only one of the two guns and that only one crew-man remained. Instantly he fed the gun and directed 1st fire until he was fatally wounded. Sgt. Thompson then Pfc., picked up the hot gun in his hands, moved to another position and finished the mission. As a result of their action sufficient covering fire was laid upon the enemy to enable the assaulting riflemen to overrun the positions. . .


What struck my Dad about Robert Lee dying was that Lee was one of the best. They were young and thought themselves invulnerable – which of course wasn’t the case.

The casualty rate for Company I was one of the highest in the battalion. The following is a list of the men killed in action from the Company in remembrance on Memorial Day.

JOHN H. BRADY SR., Pvt.
CALVIN R. CRAIG, Pfc
ROBERTSON DEWHURST JR., Pfc.
FOSTER G. FELKER, T/5
GEORGE L. GAREY, T/5
ROBERT L. GRAVES, Pfc.
KENNETH L. HOBBS, Cpl.
HERMAN W. HOORMANN, Pvt.
HURSHEL JOBE, Pfc.
JOHN A. KLIMOWITCH, Pvt.
CHARLES M. KLINK, S/Sgt.
GUY R. LABER, Pfc.
STANLEY J. LOCKE, T/5
JACK McKENNA, Pfc.
RICHARD A. NEISLER, S/Sgt.
WALTER M. NOGAS, T/Sgt.S
EDWIN L. PETERSON, Pfc.
EDWARD R. PINA, Pfc.
EVAN D. ROADEN, Pfc.
LAWRENCE B. STANDIFER, Pfc.
EUGENE TINKER, Pvt.

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