Posts Tagged ‘Fort Dix’

Not much has been happening lately, but we do have a couple of things to share. Before we do, though, please join us in sending happy birthday wishes to one of the four living members of the 111th, John Raisler! He will be 95 tomorrow. We spoke with him last night, and he is doing very well. His family will be coming to help him celebrate this weekend. (See our last posting for more about John.)

Earlier this month, we received an email from Wolfgang Heyn, who lives in Moenchengladbach, Germany. He said that the building where some of the 111th men, including my father, lived while in that city in the early spring of 1945–in fact, exactly 70 years ago this month–still stands, at the end of Webschulstrasse, next to the police barracks that the unit took over and worked in. It is still an apartment building.img210 Our home at Munchen Gladbach, Germany, Spring 1945

Monchengladbach apartment building where some of the 111th men lived in spring 1945, still an apartment building today

Moenchengladbach apartment building where some of the 111th men lived in spring 1945, still an apartment building today

We sure wish we had known about it when we visited the city in 2013; we spent a few hours asking around as we looked for that building, unsuccessfully. We since learned that the men were based in the former police barracks in town, not on the outskirts of town as we first suspected.

UPDATE September 2018: Our new blog friend Craig, who lives in Holland, took these photos of Moenchengladbach recently and sent them along. He says there is a sport and wellness club in the building now, and the the building is in beautiful shape. The Europeans certainly know how to maintain their properties. Wouldn’t the men of the 111th been amazed? Here are the photos:

munchengladbach 2018 2munchegladbach 2018 1

We have been in touch with Sergio Gomez, son of the 111th’s Master Sergeant Frank Gomez, of San Antonio. We were sad to learn last fall of the death of Sergio’s mother (Frank’s widow), Carmen Gomez, at the age of 96. My parents were friends with Frank and Carmen after the war. While going through his mother’s things, Sergio found a tightly rolled up photo of the 111th taken at Fort Dix, NJ, in the summer of 1943—the same panoramic photo that Tom Sedlacek, son of Joe Sedlacek, sent us a copy of last year. If you double click on the photo below, it will open in a new window, and you can zoom in on it.

111th 10MB  partially autographed

Sergio had the 3-foot-long photo professionally mounted and scanned and sent us a copy. His copy is interesting because there are several autographs on it—including that of our birthday boy, John Raisler! Thanks so much, Sergio—this will help us identify a few more of the men in the old photos. If any of you see your father in this photo, please let us know.

We have been in touch with Tom Sedlacek, son of 111th member Joe Sedlacek recently, and he sent us a copy of a panoramic photo he has of the men, taken when they were 103 strong at Fort Dix, NJ, in June 1943. Thrilling! We scanned the large image–it was about 8’x32′–and created a stitched panorama to show all of you. It looks small here, but if you click on the image, it will enlarge and fill your screen–then if you click on the little magnifying glass, you can make it even larger. Use the scroll bar at the bottom to move across the photo. Let us know if you see your father, and let us know where he is.

The 111th Men at Fort Dix, NJ, June 1945         CLICK to enlarge

The 111th Men at Fort Dix, NJ, June 1943

Art Brooks has identified the officers and a few of the men in the center front row. Find the four men in front center wearing the darker jackets with belts; then move to the second man to the left of the first officer on the left to start the identifications: the large man is Tech Sergeant James Roush; First Sergeant Bill Mayo; Lt. Dante Vezzoli (who soon left the 111th to go to Army Intelligence because he knew Italian; he retired a full colonel); Cpt. Lionel Malsbury, the CO at the time; Lt. Art Brooks; Lt. Perry Witt; Master Sergeant Frank Gomez, and Sgt. Harold Goerges. My dad, Edward “Pinky” Johnson is in the front row, ninth from the right, and on his left is his buddy John Andrews. On the back row, third man to the right of the man holding flag–only the flag stick shows (and counting the man holding the flag) is John Raisler, and to his immediate right is his buddy, Joe Sedlacek. To Sedlacek’s right is Leroy Faehling. Also on the back row, 20th man from the left, is Severt “Sy” Stroberg.

Here are a couple of other IDs: Constantino F. Navarra is in the back row, third man from the right; and Charles Whisenhunt is also in the back row, 8th man from the left.  Let us know if you see your dad or grandfather in the photo.