Military History

Through a combination of primary documentation, newspaper archives and military records, I research and compile detailed narratives of people’s lives and military service from World War I and World War II. I’m even a card-carrying National Archives researcher!

Here’s a list of stories that I’ve put together for friend’s and family. If you have anyone in mind that you would like help researching, feel free to get in touch.

ANTHONY ENGELSMAN

Anthony Engelsman

A son of Dutch immigrant farmers and a young college student in Michigan, Anthony Engelsman served with the 310th Engineers Regiment during World War I. Repairing roads and bridges in France during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, he later served in the Army of Occupation in Germany after the Armistice and eventually became a professor of government and political science after the war.

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BERKLEY W. BEDELL

Berkley Bedell

A young entrepreneuer who started the Berkley Fly Company at the age of 15, Berkley Bedell put his company on hold to join the US Army Air Corps as a flight instructor training new aviators during World War II. Likely training as a B-29 Superfortress crewman, he was weeks from deploying to the Pacific when the atomic bomb was dropped. After the war, he would go on to become a successful businessman and a U.S. Representative for the state of Iowa.

JACK H. BEDELL

Jack Bedell

Like his older brother Berkley, Jack initially served in the US Army Air Corps as a flight instructor during World War II. But he eventually deployed to the Pacific theather as a crewman on C-47 and C-54 cargo planes, flying across the Himalayan mountain range between India and China on an extremely dangerous route known as The Hump.

EDWARD LINCOLN THOMAS JR

Edward Lincoln Thomas Jr

Edward Lincoln Thomas Jr served as a soldier in HQ Company of the 83rd Field Artillery Battalion. Attached to the 3rd Armored Division towards the end of 1944, this battalion provided artillery support with their M7 Priest howitzer motor carriages during the Battle of the Bulge. Within the company, Edward was known for his use of chocolate bars as a “means of exchange” and for his voracious appetite.

THE GOLDSTEINS & ZWILSKY’s

Goldsteins & Zwilsky's

Kurt and Irma Goldstein immigrated to New York in 1941, having fled their home country of Poland and the mass deportation of Jewish people by the Nazis. Dr. Erich Zwilsky and his wife, Irma’s sister Ruth, stayed behind with their teenage son Klaus, living and working at a Jewish Community Hospital in Berlin until its liberation in April 1945. After celebrating Klaus’s bar mitzvah, the first in Berlin after the war, the Zwilsky’s were eager to leave the detoriating conditions as described by Dr. Zwilsky in a New York Times article published soon after the war. Recognizing her brother-in-law’s name in the paper, Irma Goldstein then worked with the US Army to find the Zwilsky’s in Berlin and bring them to America.

THE PAPPS

The Papps

A Hungarian immigrant who settled in Akron, Ohio, Joseph Papp was a grocery store owner and a corn sugar dealer during Prohibition in the 1920’s. Charged with manufacturing liquor by a grand jury, he was eventually murdered in cold blood by two men believed to be involved with the mob in Cleveland, leaving behind a wife and three teenage children.

MARY ETHEL PAPP

Mary Ethel Papp

Eight years after the death of her father when she was only 15 years old, Mary Ethel Papp graduated from nursing school in 1941. Later that year, she enlisted in the US Army Nurse Corps, only three months before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor that catapulted the United States into World War II. Arriving in Australia in early 1942, Mary served in New South Wales as an Army nurse before deploying to New Guinea and the Netherland’s East Islands providing medical support for US troops fighting the Japanese, eventually receiving a Bronze Star for her service.

JOSEPH M. PAPP

Joseph M. Papp

The youngest Papp sibling, Joseph M. Papp followed his older sister Mary into the war effort when he was drafted into the US Army in July 1943. Eventually serving in the 33rd Armored Regiment, most likely as a rifleman providing infantry support to the 33rd’s M4 Sherman tanks, Joseph fought in Europe and was injured during a fierce battle near the Siegfried Line. Returning to England to recover, Joseph Papp would eventually receive a Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his service.

ANN ROBEL

Ann Robel

Ann Robel enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps a few months after its creation by President Roosevelt in 1942. After it became the US Army’s Women’s Army Corps, Ann would go on to achieve the rank of First Sergeant, the second-highest rank for an enlisted, non-commissioned officer and a rank achieved by less than 0.6% of enlisted women during World War II. She served in the United States Army Military District of Washington, a major command tasked with the ground defense of the nation’s capitol and providing support to the newly built Pentagon.

STANLEY EDWARD SKIDMORE

Stanley Edward Skidmore

During World War II, Stanley Edward Skidmore was eager to fight in Europe and left the 10th Mountain Division in order to join the 318th Infantry Regiment, serving as a sergeant and a squad leader in its 2nd Battalion, Company E. The 318th would go on to fight in many battles throughout France, Luxembourg and Germany during the war, eventually crossing the Rhine in March 1945. They helped the 6th Armored Division liberate the Buchenwald and Ebrensee concentration camps, and later secured the Altausee salt mine from the Nazis with its horde of stolen art.

VICTOR FREED

Victor Freed

The son of a wealthy businessman in Seattle, Victor Freed was studying medicine at the University of Oregon when he was drafted into the US Army during World War I. He would sail for France two days after the armistice was signed as part of the US Medical Department providing care for wounded soldiers overseas. Working at a mobile hospital unit in Curel, France, he would succumb to the ravages of typhoid fever during an outbreak there in late 1918.

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VICTOR HANSON

Victor Hanson

A young farmer from Minnesota who had recently moved to Seattle with his family, Victor Edgar Hanson joined the US Army at Camp Lewis in June 1918 and likely had very little military training before being sent to the war in France. As a new replacement in Company H of the 308th Infantry Regiment, part of the “Victorious” 77th Division out of New York, Victor would soon be killed from a head wound during fighting in the Argonnes forest as part of the battle for the Lost Battalion.

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CLARENCE JOHNSON

Clarence Johnson

A dairy truck driver in Seattle who joined the US Army soon after the United States entered World War I. He trained at Camp Lewis and eventually became a Corporal with Company L of the 361st Infantry Regiment, part of the 91st “Wild West” Division. Only a few days after the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, he would be killed by artillery on a charge led by his battalion commander to take Miller Hill outside of Gesnes, France.

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