Some New 111th Family Members

Posted: April 9, 2014 in Men of the 111th Ordnance Company
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A couple of weeks ago–when it was still too cold to play golf here in Virginia–my husband and devoted partner in this project, Ed, decided to try to locate more family members of the men of the 111th. He sent out letters to about thirty children of the men, their names and locations obtained largely through their parents’ online obituaries. We have started to hear back from some of them.

Constantino Navarra, Jr.–known as Tino–is the youngest of his father’s eight children. He called us one evening and we had a great chat. He recalled that his dad had done some photography work–such as photographing a bullet coming out of a rifle and a bullet hitting a target, probably while they were in Canada. He said his father talked about being part of the group that left Heerlen, Holland, for a few weeks in 1945 to support the Battle of the Bulge. We told him that 111th survivor Roger Rickon was also with that group, so Tino called Roger; he also phoned another survivor who knew his dad, John Raisler. Raisler told us he will never forget that before the unit shipped off to Europe from New York City,  Navarra took several of the men to an Italian restaurant, where they were treated to a 12-course meal. That was the last time those men had good (or any) Italian food for at least two years.

Constantino Navarra in Wales, 1944

Constantino Navarra in Wales, 1944

Then we heard from Ian Creswell, grandson of 111th member Patrick Creswell. He told us that his grandfather had been sent to do ordnance inspection work for the U.S. Army at the Westinghouse plant in Springfield, MA, in the months before the unit left for Europe. He met a girl while working at the plant and later married her. Patrick was from Texas and was with the 111th while they were at Camp Bowie. Ian said that his grandfather did not talk much about his war years but recalled that he worked as a jeep mechanic.

Patrick Creswell and his accordion at Camp Bowie, Texas, 1942

Patrick Creswell and his accordion at Camp Bowie, Texas, 1942

Patrick Creswell in Cardigan, Wales, 1944

Patrick Creswell in Cardigan, Wales, 1944

The other night we had a call from Phyllis Sossi, wife of Frank Sossi, Jr, whose father was 111th member Frank Sossi. Frank Jr. was away on a business trip, so we talked to Phyllis for a while and learned that her husband has an old trunk full of his father’s wartime memorabilia, including letters, photos, patches, etc. When he returns from his trip, he will go through the contents and scan in items for this blog. Frank Sr. talked very little about his wartime experiences with his children. Phyllis said that her husband remembers that his father was an assistant to Lt. Fred Kent.

Frank Sossi, Heerlen, Holland, 1945

Frank Sossi, Heerlen, Holland, 1945

Today we got a call from Judith Vale, whose father was 111th member Russell Willman. When she has a chance, she will go through the many photos he had of the war and send some to us.

 

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