Posted Thursday, June 6th, 2019
By Air, Sea and Land
The Morris County Board of Freeholders would like to honor the memories of all who served in the U.S. military during World War II and bravely answered the call to duty on D-Day in Normandy, France, 75 years ago.
Many of our county’s heroic residents served and some lost their lives in the battles to establish a foothold for Allied troops in France, as they participated in the largest seaborne invasion in modern history.
Thousands of American troops never made it out of the water, making the landing on Normandy one of the deadliest days of the war. But it also was the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime.
“On behalf of all Morris County residents, the Board of Freeholders would like to thank the members of our military who on D-Day and throughout the Normandy campaign selflessly answered our nation’s call, many making the ultimate sacrifice, to protect us here in the United States, in Europe and around the world with courage, determination and pride,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. Our debt to these heroic men in the service of our country and the world can never be repaid.”
“The 75th anniversary of D-Day is a poignant reminder that freedom is not free, and we must pass that lesson on to each generation,” said Freeholder John Krickus a veteran of the Marine Corps.
June 6, 1944 – D-Day
After almost five years of war and following months of planning, preparation and training, Allied forces under the overall command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower landed on the beaches of Hitler’s “Fortress Europe.’’
Paratroopers and glider-borne infantry were the first to touch French soil in the early morning on the eastern and western flanks of the invasion area. Several hours later, as the sun began to rise, an enormous armada of ships disembarked a cargo of fighting men onto five beaches across a 50-mile front of the Normandy coastline.
By day’s end, 156,000 troops had landed and a tentative but strengthening beachhead was established. A door in Hitler’s much-vaunted “Atlantic Wall” had been kicked open.
Operation Neptune was the codename for the assault phase of the Normandy landings, while the objective of Operation Overlord was to create a secure location for Allied troops in France from which further operations to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany could be launched.
The Battle of Normandy began with the Allied assault on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, or more precisely with the dropping of paratroopers and glider forces in the early hours of the morning of June 6, 1944.
The Battle culminated towards the end of August with the encirclement and capture of some 150,000 German soldiers at Falaise, and with the Allied forces crossing the River Seine on their march towards Paris. The war was still far from over but the end was now clearly in sight, and Hitler’s days were numbered.
D-Day web sites.
National site: https://www.dday.org/
National WW2 Museum:https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/d-day-allies-invade-europe
The following is a list of Morris County residents known to have served on D-Day and in Normandy – some of whom gave their lives in those battles. We salute them!
(If you have additions or corrections to this list, please contact Jan Williams at [email protected])
Italo S. Quinto, Long Hill Township. Ball Turret Gunner on the B-17 “I’ll Get By.” Deceased 2008.
Frank A. Wiswall, Boonton. Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal; Legion of Merit. In 2009, he was made a Chevalier and decorated with the French Legion of Honor. Deceased 2014.
John S. Neal, Jr., Roxbury. Paratrooper. Deceased 1973.
Peter C. Gallo, Morristown. Paratrooper at the Normandy Landings. Deceased 2014
Salvatore P. Vanacore, East Hanover. Nose Gunner B-24. Air Medal. Awarded the Legion of Honor. Deceased 2013.
Felix Peter “Big Ski” Rovinski, Rockaway Borough. Chief Water Tender, USS Corry, which was sunk at Utah Beach. He was killed in this action.
Robert A. Mett, Pequannock. U.S. Navy, Electricians Mate 2nd class. Remembered on the Tablets of the Missing at Normandy American Cemetery. Awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.
William G. “Bill” Prentiss, Madison. GM3 attached to the USS Winslow. Provided fire support for the troops landing on Red Beach. Deceased 2017.
By Land: The Invasion of Normandy and The Normandy Landings
Jack Kirkwood, Riverdale. 10th Infantry Regiment – 5th Infantry Division. Buried Epinal American Cemetery
Henry W. “Hank” Albert, Boonton. Deceased 2013.
Raymond J. Cole, Sr., Chatham. Deceased 2015
Chester C. DeFelice, Netcong. Awarded the French Medal of Honor for service to the French people. Deceased 2018.
Robert F. Hunt, Morris Plains. Deceased 2010.
William A. Johnson, Madison. Purple Heart. Deceased 2010.
Edward “Big Ed “ Polnik, Florham Park. Invasion of Normandy. Purple Heart. Deceased 2008.
Raymond Joseph Renz, Montville. Invasion of Normandy. Deceased 2001.
Joseph Carmen Sanchelli, Sr., Whippany. Invasion of Normandy. Deceased 2006.
Peter D. Santella, Roxbury. Invasion of Normandy. Deceased 1998.
Jerry Testa, Towaco. Invasion of Normandy. Purple Heart. Deceased 2015.
William Tomko, Whippany. Invasion of Normandy. Legion of Honor, Purple Heart. Deceased 2017.
Leonard N. “Len” Voytush, Mt. Arlington. Invasion of Normandy. Deceased 2012.
Walter B. Zimny, Denville. Invasion of Normandy. Deceased 2015.
“The First Wave”
Edward Charles Weisgerber, Chatham Township. Private with U.S. Army.
Eugene “Gene” McMann, Lincoln Park. Served in an underwater demolition team. The team still exists, now known as the Navy SEALS. Deceased 2017.
Robert J. Fancher, Jr., Wharton. Deceased 2014.
Frank George Adamsky, Whippany. Deceased 2014.
John Y. Angelo, Parsippany. Deceased 2014.
SSGT. Paul A. Bakos. Morris County is listed as his residence. Served on Omaha Beach. Surviving D-Day, he succumbed to non-battle injuries in 1945.
Harold H. Becker, Denville. Purple Heart. Deceased 2014.
John E. Beddow, Boonton. Deceased 1983.
Charles E. Berthoud, Dover. Deceased 1988.
Robert H. Bott, Kinnelon. Living/Deceased status unknown.
Archangelo Joseph “Arky” Bianco, Sr., Morristown. Deceased 2014.
Wilson A. “Wil” Britten, Madison. Deceased 2014.
Philip Francis Cirincione, Roxbury. Deceased 2013
Lewis R. Colwell, Morristown. Living/Deceased status unknown.
Charles H. “Chick” Collinson, Madison. Deceased 2005.
Francis E. Cortright, Hanover. Deceased 1986.
Leonard T. Corcoran, Stirling. Deceased 1977.
Roland E. DeGraw, Dover Living/Deceased status unknown.
Frank P. Della Ventura, Long Hill Township. Deceased 2012.
Clarence J. “Buck” Forsythe, Boonton Township. Omaha Beach. Deceased 2013.
Arnold Hof, Chatham Township. Received the Croix De Guerre ‘e Plume from the French Government. Deceased 2000.
Christopher John “Jack” Keating, Jr., Rockaway Township. On the 50th anniversary of D-Day, he was in France for the ceremonies. Deceased 2015.
Elmer Kitchell, Montville. Deceased 2016. Awarded the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star after D-Day.
CITATION for Elmer Kitchell:
“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Technical Sergeant Elmer Kitchell (ASN: 32563704), United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with the 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, in action on 23 February 1945, in Germany. Although he was painfully wounded, Sergeant Kitchell took command of his platoon and moved about in a heavily mined area to reorganize it. Despite his being again wounded when he had led his men through half of a booby trapped and mine infested woods, he continued advancing until he collapsed from loss of blood. Sergeant Kitchell’s gallant actions enabled his men to reach the line of departure in time for the attack.”
Chester A. “Chet” Kochan, Hanover. As a D-Day participant, Mr. Kochan landed on Omaha Beach with the United States Army 83rd Infantry Division, and began fighting in what is known as “Hedgerow country.” He was 18 years old when he was shot through the neck, and wounded by shrapnel after he was shot. He was captured by the Germans in Saint-Malo, France, eventually exchanged for a German prisoner.
Awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, two campaign stars for Normandy and Northern France, Combat Infantry Badge, Good Conduct, WWII Victory medal, Morris County Distinguished Service medal and the Legion of Honor, bestowed by the French Government.
At age 93, Mr. Kochan went to Normandy in June, 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day with his son Michael and visited the bunker where he had been wounded and taken prisoner.
Richard F. “Dick” Riedel, Mine Hill. Purple Heart and the Liberation of France medal. Deceased 2010.
Durand Murkland Smith, Rockaway. Deceased 2013.
Willard D. Smith, Wharton. Purple Heart. Deceased 1989.
David “The Voice of the Legion” Squibb, Chatham. At age 90 sang “God Bless America” and “Star Spangled Banner” at Chatham’s Memorial Day celebration. Current status unknown.
D-Day Plus 1
John Joseph Nataluk, Rockaway. Deceased 2016.
D-Day Plus 2
Henry F. Leer, Roxbury. Omaha Beach. Deceased 2015.
D-Day Plus 6
Woodrow F. Sweeney, Washington Township. Deceased 2006.