Irving Fleisher

Irving Fleisher

fleischer portrait

Years of Service: 12/9/1944-7/11/1945

Highest Rank: EMC3/C; electrician’s mate

Irving was born the eldest of six, in 1926, in South Philadelphia, PA.  At the age of 16, he would go to work in a glove factory.  At 17, he would work in a machine shop, in order to help his family with monthly expenses.  At 18, he would enlisted with the U.S. Navy.

After training, Irving would be assigned to a LSD, or a landing ship dock.  The LSD, the U.S.S. Colonial (LSD 18), would transport small landing craft to troops over seas.  It was also equipped with 5 millimeter guns.  Irving would be in charge of these guns.  Later, and due to his background experience in the machine shop, Irving would be assigned to assisting the ship’s electrician.

The ship was still being built when Irving was assigned to it, so the vessel had not been tested or inspected.  It would take months of testing and retesting in order for the LSD to be cleared, and ultimately, deployed.  Finally, after 6-8 months of being docked in Norfolk, VA, the ship was sent to Germany.

While on route, the Germans surrendered.  The ship was then reassigned to travel to Japan.  They traveled through the Panama Canal.  While the ship was passing the Philippines Island, the war was over.  The LSD was asked to return to Norfolk. Although Irving was relieved there was no longer a war, he still owed the Navy 18 months. He was assigned to inactive duty in order to complete his time with the U.S Navy.

Walter Roberston

Walter Robertson

Walter Robertson and Ami Feller

Service Years: 1944-1945

Rank: Private First Class. He also received Rifleman Bar N.S. Distinguished Service, U.S. Army

10th Mtn. Division-Ski Trooper and Mountain Climber

Walter was born April 23, 1918.  While working for a wholesale candy maker in Camden, NJ, the war broke out.  With sugar in short supply, and the candy making business on hold, he starting driving a truck for one of his brothers buthe was drafted.  Surrounded by his family, including his sister, wife and 5-year-old daughter, Walter boarded a bus and went to basic training at Fort Dix and later, Camp Blanding, FL.

Walter would later sail to Italy. Walter recalls a couple in Naples, who had a daughter the same age has his daughter back home, and the family was starving. He recalls how he and another solider were fill up their mess kits in order to take what they could to the family.

Walter remembers arriving in the 10th Mountain Division, in  Italy, to a Captain Luther, from Nebraska,  and along with a soldier named Rodriguez, from Texas.  He recalls his night patrols with 12 other men, and how it was vital to always remain as quiet as possible. Walter also remembers being in a battle in February 1945.  He recalls the sounds of a wounded American soldier next to him who was mortally wounded and crying out for his mother.  It took Walter years to stop recalling those cries. In the battle, Walter was shot along his backside and upper thigh. He would lose his captain and other fellow soldiers.

After being shot and a week stint in rehab, Walter returns to the Division.  Walter also recalls serving with Bob Dole and how in the next big battle, he would be seriously wounded.  He mentions how they carried Dole back, even though that is not the recounted story by Bob Dole.

Walter was eventually sent back home on a Navy transport ship, in order to be retrained in CO to fight in Japan, but he returned with a government rating of 54 points: husband, father, and had been wounded in battle.  He was subsequently discharged.  He recalls how one of his  brothers was supposed to pick him up at 30th Street Station, but never showed up.

Walter recalls life after the war, as well as the circumstances on how he received his medals.

Robert received:

Purple Heart

Bronze Star Medal

Combat Infantry Badge-Good Conduct

Thomas De Lucia

De Lucia Portrait

De Lucia Portrait

Thomas De Lucia was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July of 1914.  In his early  teens Thomas only made it through one year of high school before beginning a life as a factory worker in a box factory.  Thomas’s draft number was high but his older brother’s was not.  Fearful of how his brother with a mental disability would do in the Army, Thomas took his place.  Thomas did 4 years of service.  His highest Rank was a Private First Class (PFC) in the 2nd Army, 9th Army, and the First Army 903 Company.

Basic Training took place at Fort Lee, VA in Summer 1942.  Thomas’s company had award winning marksmenship.  Thomas claims the best shooters came from South Philadelphia.   Advanced Training took place in the Fall of 1942.  He was “trained in:  Infantry, Engineers, Tanks, Bazookas, Chemical Warfare, Signal Corps, Medical Corps, Machine guns, Riflemen, Judo training, and Mines.”  Special Training in 1943, Company 903 was formed with 199 men.  The total cost of training was over two million dollars.  After training Thomas was told he was going to England left for embarkation at Camp Kilmer. Set sale on the Queen Mary.  Here is an excerpt of his Military History Thomas De Lucia wrote himself:

June 7, 1944 (D-Day Plus 1), our outfit was sent in to Utah Beach in the Normandy battle area in two groups of landing craft. This was to spread us out and thus enhance the chances of at least some of us making the landing no matter what was encountered during the crossing. However during our crossing of the English Channel, due to fear and confusion, the boats carrying the two halves of our outfit were separated, causing half to land on Omaha Beach. My group landed as planned on Utah Beach but unfortunately we lost 7 men. But far worse, the 1st Div, 101st Airborne, 60th Signal Corps was wiped out during the crossing.

Arrived Chef Du Pont (St. Mere Eglise), the outfit was broken-up into squads (9 to a squad) and spread out over a very wide area. Our squad eventually drifted so far away from the others t h a t we couldn’t be located at all, this caused us to be declared Missing in Action. […] We eventually regrouped with our outfit at Isigny.  June 10, 1944: Somewhere in France, Tony Capanegro was sharing a foxhole with me. I grabbed Tony and pulled him down just in time. A German 88 shell came right by where his head had been.

Encamped at Mortain, St Lo. The enemy stalled the Allied Front here in heavy fighting due to the Hedgerow defenses setup. […] Five of us went on a two week long secret mission where we spied on German troop movements. Towards the end of the
mission German aircraft attacked us.

For more on Thomas De Lucia Military History watch the videos below:

Thomas’s his nephew gives some background information about Thomas prior to being drafted, including how took his brother’s draft number.

November 3, 1945 Thomas boarded the Victory Ship the USS Tusculum Victory and by November 19th he arrived in Newport News, VA.  After the war Thomas did not feel welcomed.  His home was gone, his job was gone, he tried to reenlist but was denied.  He reunited with his girlfriend Ester through letters and they eventually married in California.  Thomas spoke with the VA to sort out his life but it was a private doctor Dr. Harry Haltzam that Thomas attributes to getting him back on his feet.

For more on Thomas De Lucia’s Military Aftermath experience, watch the video below:

5 Battle Stars
1 Citation
Ribbons from the French, Belgium Underground, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe