Robert E. Roeder was born on July 25, 1917 in Summit Station, Pennsylvania. He lived his entire childhood there, graduating from Schuylkill Haven High School in 1935, prior to his enlistment in the United States Army in 1936. Roeder was stationed in Hawaii and was present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
John Joseph Tominac was born in Conemaugh, Pennsylvania on April 29, 1922. He voluntarily enlisted in the United States Army, specifically the United States Army Air Corps, on November 22, 1941. At some point, he was transferred to the Infantry branch and also earned an officer’s commission.
Gino Joseph Merli was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on May 23, 1924. He left high school after three years, and was drafted into the United States Army for World War II service shortly after his 19th birthday on July 8, 1943.
After initial training, Merli joined the 1st Infantry Division in England as the division was both recovering from their combat duties in Sicily and preparing for their assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
John J. McVeigh was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during 1921. He graduated from high school in 1939, and was drafted for wartime service in the United States Army on September 17, 1942. By August 29, 1944 he had attained the rank of Sergeant and was serving with Company H, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
Alvin P. Carey was born in Lycippus, Pennsylvania on August 16, 1916. He was drafted into the United States Army on January 24, 1941. He landed in France with the 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division on D-Day plus 1, June 7, 1944.
Donald Ronald Lobaugh was born in Freeport, Pennsylvania on February 7, 1925. He was inducted into the United States Army on May 15, 1942. His enlistment record marks him as a “Selectee”, but as he was just 17 years old, I’m reasonably certain he was a volunteer.
“Fortitude and Courage” is the motto of the 314th Infantry Regiment. Seventy years ago today, two soldiers of that regiment as part of the 79th Infantry Division embodied its motto with their heroism during the Battle of Cherbourg in the Normandy Campaign.
John J. Pinder, Jr. was born outside Pittsburgh in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania on June 6, 1912. When he was drafted into the United States Army on January 27, 1942, he was a minor league baseball player.
John W. Dutko was born in Dilltown, Pennsylvania on October 24, 1916. He enlisted in the United States Army on February 21, 1941 at age 24. His enlistment record shows that he never received an education after grammar school, and was working as a farm hand when he volunteered for the Army.
Dutko’s records also indicate that he was initially in the Medical Corps, but it wasn’t in medicine that he wound up serving during World War II. He was a foot soldier, an automatic rifleman armed with an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle in the 3rd Infantry Division‘s 30th Infantry Regiment.
The motto of the 30th Infantry is “Our country, not ourselves.” On May 23, 1944, then Private First Class Dutko demonstrated exactly what that means.
It’s rare, but there are some Medal of Honor recipients who, incredibly, lack a back story. Knowledge of their lives before their service to the United States of America has been lost. Today’s honoree from 1944 is one of those men.