HERKIMER MEN IN THE SERVICE
DURING WORLD WAR II
Selected Clippings From Bill Arthur's Scrapbook
The following articles were taken from the WWII information at the Library which
were all from The Herkimer Evening Telegram collected by Mr. Arthur. They are
typed just as in the paper except for the captions are not centered as in the
original. Permission to use these articles and pictures was given by The
Herkimer Evening Telegram on May 4, 2000.
This is just a sampling of what might be contained in other articles.
HERKIMER BOMBER PILOT DOWNED IN AUSTRIA RAID
April 4, 1944
"The Rugged Curse," a giant four-motored Liberator piloted by 1st Lt. David
Austin Rasbach, 23, Herkimer, went down fighting Sunday when it participated in
the first American raid on Budapest and Austria, according to a United Press
dispatch received here today. Before the huge bomber crash landed in "friendly
territory" the bomber's gunners shot down four German fighter planes. Although
details were not given, indications are that Rasbach brought his ship to earth
without personal injury to crew members or himself.
The report said the bomber took part in the raid against "Steyre, and Austria"
Sunday ... and had "dropped behind with a disabled engine."
ATTACKED BY FOE
It was as the plane lagged behind the formation that it was suddenly attacked by
the Nazi fighters and according to the report the Yankee gunners were able to
keep them off.
Lt. Rasbach and his crew had been operating from a U. S. Army air base somewhere
in the Naples area and it is believed that the "friendly territory" referred to
as the Adriatic coastline of Yugoslavia.
The Herkimer bomber pilot is the son of Mr. and Mrs. D. Bennett Rasbach, 502 West
German Street, who received first news of the accident in news dispatches.
GIVEN WINGS LAST YEAR
He received his wings June 22, 1943 at Douglas Field, Ariz., and has been
overseas since New Year's Day. Lt. Rasbach entered the army on June 30, 1942 and
after receiving basic training at Fort Dix, was transferred into the AAF and
received further training at Mitchell Field, Fort Mills, Fort Myers, and finally
at Nashville where he was selected to take up flying of multiple motored planes.
From Nashville he trained at Santa Ana, King City, and Chico, Tex., and
completed the advanced course at Douglas Field. After a brief furlough home he
flew his bomber, the same one referred to above, to Brazil and then across the
Atlantic to the war front.
LOCAL SOLDIER REPORTED MISSING ON ITALY FRONT
April 17, 1944
Pvt. Walter Storzinski, 32, son of Michael Storzinski, 301 King Street, was
reported today as "missing in action" on the Italian war front, in a telegram
received here by his brother, John Stokey.
The telegram, received first by a sister, Mrs. Stella Sperrick, Detroit, Mich.,
and signed by Acting Adjt. Gen. Dunlop, read:
"The Secretary of War desired me to express his deep regret that your brother,
Pvt. Walter Storzinski, has been reported missing in action since Feb. 16, in
Italy. Letter follows."
FORMER COUNTY WORKER
Four days before that date, Pvt. Storzinski, a former employee of the Herkimer
County highway department and the Remington Arms, Ilion, informed his father of
his new APO address.
In a brief note attached to the address change, he wrote:
"A short line to let you know that I am somewhere in Italy, fighting. Things
aren't very good for me but I hope I will come through all this. There isn't
much more for me to write about. I hope God is with me always as I am sure he
Walter was born in Poland, Europe, and came to America with his parents when two
years old. The family resided in Pennsylvania and in 1918 they came to Herkimer
where Walter graduated from high school and played on its football team.
HOME FOR CHIRSTMAS
He was inducted June 20, 1942 and after training in several southern camps was
shipped overseas several months ago. He was home on furlough at Christmas time.
Besides his father, brother and sister already mentioned, those anxiously
awaiting further information are two sisters, Mrs. Alice Miller, Herkimer, and
Mrs. Lena Huzar, Detroit. Walter was unmarried and was a member of St. Francis
de Sales Church.
HERKIMER FLIER MISSING AFTER RAID ON GERMANY
April 27, 1944
Hope was held today by Postmaster and Mrs. F. Arthur Fagan that their son, Lieut.
Francis Arthur Fagan, 27, reported Saturday as missing in action over Germany,
may still be alive even though prisoner of war held by the Nazis.
A War Department message received by Postmaster Fagan about 5:30 p.m. Saturday,
declared the Herkimer pilot of a Flying Fortress known as "The Berlin First" had
been missing since March 8 "in action over Germany."
DETAILS NOT GIVEN
Although details were not given the mission was probably Lieut. Fagan's second or
third, for the first had been successful according to special news dispatches and
an article in the current issue of Life magazine.
Young Fagan was well known here and his likeness appearing in Life was recognized
immediately by his many friends. The photo was taken after the huge Fortress
returned from its maiden combat flight with Lieut. Fagan at the controls.
Postmaster Fagan "had a feeling" that he would receive word Saturday from his
son, but believed the word would be in form of a letter as Francis had been
unheard from since Mar. 3.
Twice the postmaster went to the post office in hopes of receiving the letters
and finally gave up the idea about 4:30 p.m. Shortly after returning to his home
in 257 N. Main St., the telegram arrived.
"Raided Berlin Mar. 4"
Lieut. Fagan attended St. Francis de Sales parochial school and later the Utica
Country Day School. He graduated from Herkimer High School and Holy Cross
College and for a time managed the Baker-Fagan Motor Sales and later a Shell gas
station in N. Main St.
He had been in service since Jan. 1942 and received his wings the following
January at Foster Field, Tex. After training at various air fields in the nation
he was shipped overseas several months ago and on Mar. 4 participated in his
first combat flight with Berlin as the target.
His letters made no mention of his activities and all urged his parents not to
worry that he was all right.
MISSING HERKIMER PILOT BEAMS WORD FROM BERLIN
HE IS 'SAFE AND WELL'
Later Article Regarding Entry Above - April 19, 1944
Lt. Francis Arthur Fagan, son of Postmaster and Mrs. F. Arthur Fagan, N. Main
St., "is safe and well" according to a broadcast last night from Berlin heard by
Mrs. Alexander Brown, 5 Petrie St., Mohawk.
Fagan was one of several American bomber crewmen to be permitted to speak on the
"Gertie from Berlin" shortwave broadcast given nightly between 10:30 and 11
Mrs. Brown informed the Fagans here that because of static she did not hear
"everything Francis said, but heard "I am well," repeated twice. He asked his
parents to send him something, the word being obliterated by static.
Lt. Fagan, pilot of the "Berlin First" bomber, was shot down recently while on a
raid over Berlin. He is now believed a war prisoner there.
DOCTOR BACK FROM IRAN TELLS OF FILTH AND HEAT
March 28, 1944
There's no coal shortage nor sanitation problems in Iran, according to Capt.
Robert Dennis, of the Army Medical Corps, who has returned home for a 20 day
furlough after 15 months of service in the Far East and N. Africa.
Fuel is not needed in southern Persia because it never gets cold there, he said,
adding that Persians give little heed to sanitation facilities and seem
unconcerned about the future.
Dennis, in a talk given Saturday night before local Masons, stated that the
temperature in Iran often climbs to 157 degrees by mid-day and drops to 110 at
GLAD TO SEE SNOW HERE
"I never was so glad to see ice, snow and rain in all my life as when I arrived
home," he said. "It's hot in Persia, in fact so hot that practically nobody
works from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. We just eat a lunch at 11, take a shower if we
can get water, and lie down for the next four hours covered only with a wet
Turkish towel in an effort to keep cool."
Capt. Dennis described Persia as "not as glamorous as in the books" he had read.
"Of course the way we saw Persia was not the way the tourist would see it. We
had the opportunity to see the country as it really is," he said.
Sanitation in Persia was described as "one of the worst in the world." Gutters
are used for toilet facilities, even in the larger cities. Streets are flushed
several times daily. Babies are usually bathed in the same streams and the
natives seem to be immune to conditions, he said.
SAYS LIFE SPAN SHORT
Capt. Dennis said he did not see an old Persian. The span of Life there, he
said, was between 35 and 40 years, adding that three out of every five babies
born die during the first year of life.
Water he said, was precious and a rationed commodity. He attributed, the insect
life to the source of many diseases. U. S. medical forces have taken all
precuations to protect Yankee troops in that area he said.
Capt. Dennis told of the severe said (probably sand?) storms coming once or twice
a day. He praised the work of the American forces there in preparing Iran for a
combat zone during the period Rommel was driving towards Egypt.
While it required 87 days for Capt. Dennis to make the trip to Iran via a Dutch
freighter, only three were needed to return him home by plane. He said he was
sold on air travel, declaring current operations by the military forces were only
a slight hint on post-war travel which would link countries close together.
HERKIMER FLIER WINS SILVER STAR
FOR PILOTING BATTLE-SHOT BOMBER
May 29, 1944
First Lt. David Austin Rasbach, son of Mr. and Mrs. D. Bennett Rasbach, has been
awarded the Silver Star at a 15th Army Air Force base somewhere in Italy,
according to word received here today.
The presentation was made by Brig. Gen. Joseph H. Atkinson, Dalhart, Tex., the
deputy commanding general of the 15th USAAF. The citation accompanying the award
read "for gallantry in action."
On April 2, 1944, Lt. Rasbach was piloting a Liberator heavy bomber on a
dangerous mission against aircraft factories in Austria. After completing the
highly successful bombing of the objective and despite being under violent attack
by large formations of enemy fighters, Lt. Rasbach's bomber was flown back to
The Liberator "Rugged Curse" was severely damaged by enemy anti-aircraft fire and
fighter attack. With one engine out, portions of controls shot away, hydraulic
and other systems inoperative, Rasbach "gallantly and ably piloted his ship,
despite vicious and persistent attacks by German fighters, many miles through
hostile territory in an almost unairworthy and unflyable condition," the citation
"He made a safe landing at a friendly field with no further damage to his crew or
the Liberator. Lt. Rasbach, overseas since last January, received his commison
as a pilot and 2nd lieutenant in June 1943.
He has already received several other awards for bravery in action and has been
recommended for the Distinguised Flying Cross."
PVT. CHESTER W. KOVEL WOUNDED
September 9, 1944
Pvt. Chester W. Kovel, 29, son of Mrs. Victoria Zedauanis, 345 Pleasant Ave., was
seriously wounded June 8 in combat against Germans in France.
LOCAL MAN RELAYS WORD OF YANKS HELD BY NAZIS
September 9, 1944
"It was very kind of you to inform me of my husband . . ." begin hundreds of
postcards and letters received during recent months by J. Robert Watts, Herkimer
short wave monitor, who has been passing along information received about
Americans held prisoners in Germany.
Watts, who conducts a dry cleaning business in 109 W. Smith St., and also is
active in the Herkimer Elks Lodge, spends late hours six nights each week
listening to shortwave broadcasts from Berlin.
He started about the time Lt. Francis A. Fagan, son of Postmaster and Mrs. F. S.
Fagan, 257 N. Main St., was reported missing in action. Since then Watts
realized that other parents have been eager to receive bits of news--no matter
how small--about the welfare of their sons.
TAKES 15 EACH NIGHT
When Watts began his nightly 90-minute listening job, he noted only the names of
five fliers reported taken prisoner. Since then he has added other information,
including reports of progress on Americans hospitalized by the Germans and
messages given by Yanks permitted to speak over the radio.
He takes on an average about 15 to 20 messages each night and the next morning's
mail contains as many postcards or letters addressed to families of those
servicemen heard or reported.
"Letters I have received from parents, wives and sisters makes the effort
worthwhile," he said.
Here's a sample of one of the notes received:
"It was very kind of you to inform me of my husband. Although I had news from
the government that he was a prisoner of war, I didn't know his plane was shot
down. I've also received news from others who listened in that my husband was
safe and well. It takes people like you to give others courage. I want you to
know that I sincerely appreciate your kindness and I hope God will preserve you
to make other people happy."
GETS NATION-WIDE THANKS
Thank-you letters have been received from every state in the union, expressing
appreciation to Watts and his volunteer service.
Strange as it may seem Watts has never heard the voice of the name of Herkimer
county man mentioned. The nearest community recorded was Syracuse and Oswego.
MIKE KUZNIAK HURT IN BATTLE
November 24, 1944
Lt. Michael Kuzniak, 26, an officer in the infantry, was wounded recently while fighting the Germans
in Holland according to a letter received today by his mother, Mrs. Rose Kuzniak, 211 Perry Street.
Lt. Kuzniak was a member of one of the first peacetime draft contingents called by the Herkimer board.
He left as a volunteer and after training in southern camps was sent to Officer Candidate school in the
state of Washington where he received his commission about two years ago.
In his letter he said he was confined in a Hospital, but urged his mother not to worry as he "was not
seriously hit." He described the wound as "just a small flesh wound above the knee" and added "I'll
be out shortly, according to the doctor."
He praised the medical treatment given by the army doctors and care given by nurses. "They really
treat you swell around here."
While he did not say where he was, his mother believes it to be in France.
Lt. Kuzniak was shipped to England on July 10, 1944 and soon afterwards led his platoon in France.
He has a brother, Russell Kuzniak, 24, who is rounding out three years of service on the battleship
"USS New Mexico."
PVT. WALDRON DEAD IN ACTION
January 17, 1945
Word was received here today of the death in action in Germany on Dec. 18 of Pvt. Harold F.
Waldron, husband of Mrs. Dorothy Waldron, 571 W. 215th St., New York, daughter of Mrs. Guy S. Wood, N. Main St.
Mrs. Waldron had earlier received word that her husband was missing in action. In a recent
letter, he had written that he was in a rest camp in Belgium on Dec. 13 and 14 and had up until then
been living on only one ration allotment a day.
It was believed that he was sent back immediately into the line on the occasion of the German
breakthrough on Dec. 16.
Pvt. Waldron, who was previously employed in the office of an aviation company in New York, was
sent overseas early last fall from Fort Meade and had been serving with the Infantry in Luxembourg,
Belgium and Germany.
He married the former Dorothy Wood about four or five years ago. Mrs. Guy Wood is spending the
winter in New York with her daughter.
He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold F. Waldron, New York.
WEBERS GET PURPLE HEART,
JAP FLAGS TAKEN BY SON
KILLED FIGHTING ON SAIPAN
January 20, 1945
Two Japanese flags captured on Saipan by S/Sgt. Howell Weber, who was killed there July 17, and his Purple
Heart were received yesterday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Weber, 123 S. Washington St., from S/Sgt.
Lyle Wilts, a buddy, formerly from the town of Ohio.
Weber, one of four service sons, was a member of the second draft contingent called up for service by the
Herkimer board, on Jan. 22, 1941. Wilts, the first to leave from Ohio, entered service at the same time.
He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Brainard Wiltz.
Formerly employed by the Oak Hill Cemetery Association, Weber has three brothers in the armed forces, Cpt.
Robert, Texas; Seaman 1/c Warren, Florida, and Seaman 2/c Jacob, who served in Trinidad, returned to this
country for leave, reported at Norfolk, Va., and is now believed on his way overseas again.
THE FIRST OF THREE photos taken of the 102 Herkimer area farmers called up recently for army physical
examinations is presented here today. Two other pictures will appear in later editions. The above are Robert
Bayer, leader; William Homyk, William Franklin, Frederick Hyer, Charles Hight, Francis Davis, Joseph Grzella,
Paul Gorski, Edward Goodnow, Michael Bienick, Andrew Duchnycz, Duane Crossett, Joseph Glenski, Durwood Carman,
Chester Godlewski, Charles Dygert, William Graudon, William Agne Jr., Gerald Baker, Rosario Di Gristina,
Charles Hladysz, Donald Eckler, Ernest Darrow, Floyd Hennings, Donald Dodge, Vern Herringshaw, Charles Hughes,
Joseph Godlewiski, Steven Prelinsky, George Caldwell, Leo Di Gristina, Harry Hartman, Leon Dygert and
Phillip Greiner. (Telegram Photo) February 26, 1945.
All spellings are as in the original newspaper clippings. For further information about men listed, please contact the appropriate historical societies and libraries.
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Copyright © 2001 William and Evelyn Arthur
Copyright © 2001 Betsy Voorhees
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