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2nd Lt. John Mancke Biography-1

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John Maneke's Watch Returned to His Family - Feb 2024

2nd Lt. John Manecke’s watch was returned to his son Neal in February 2024. 

2nd Lt. John I. Manecke -- 1943 Movado

B-24 Navigator -- 449th Bombardment Group

2nd Lt. John Irwin Manecke (1924-2015) was a WW2 B-24 Navigator with the 449th Bombardment Group / 716th Bomb Squadron (“The Flying Horsemen”).

“The squadron assembled at its combat station, Grottaglie Airfield in Southern Italy, in early January 1944, from which it operated primarily on strategic bombing missions. It attacked oil refineries, communications centers, aircraft factories and industrial facilities in Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Albania, and Greece."

John was born in Detroit, MI, and graduated from Western High School in 1942. He enlisted in the Army and purchased a Movado watch at the time of his enlistment. It is inscribed “John I. Manecke ~ 3-4-43”. 

During infantry training in Georgia, he met an Air Corps recruiter, passed the tests, and became a B-24 navigator. In early 1944, his crew flew from the US to Italy in their new B-24. John had flown less than 10 missions when the Air Corps transferred him back to the States for B-29 training. 

John was honorably discharged as a lieutenant in October 1944. John enrolled in the University of Michigan and graduated with a degree in Engineering. He worked for the Ford Motor Company, including as an engineer on the Edsel.

John married Betsy Balogh in 1948, and they raised two sons, Neal and Kirt. He remained active in the 449th Bomb Group Association and the Huron Valley AmVets. John died on January 16, 2015, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Book no.1

Pvt. Paul R. Thomer Biography-1

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Paul Thomer's Watch Returned to His Family - Sept 2023

On Sept 9, 2023, Pvt. Thomer’s watch was returned to his daughter Deborah and her four siblings, exactly 80 years after Paul purchased it. They will treasure it as a tangible memory of their courageous Dad. Semper Fi.

Pvt. Paul Thomer -- 1942 Guadalcanal Marine & His Watch

Private Paul R. Thomer (1923–1992) fought at Guadalcanal as a member of the famed 1st Marine Division. Paul was from Pittsburgh PA, and enlisted in the Marines in January 1942.

The 1st Marine Division sailed from San Francisco in June, and landed on the island of Guadalcanal on Aug 7, 1942. This was the first major US amphibious landing of World War II. The invasion ignited a ferocious struggle with Japanese forces, marked by seven major naval battles, numerous clashes ashore, and almost continuous air combat through December 1942.

The fighting at Guadalcanal took a terrible toll; the 1st Division suffered 650 killed in action and 1,278 wounded, with a further 8,580 contracting malaria and other diseases. As one Marine recalled, ”the Division suffered 100% casualties, with the dead, wounded, and those sick from malaria, dengue fever, jungle rot, malnutrition and combat fatigue… “.

Battle-weary and in poor health following the Guadalcanal campaign, the men of the First Marine Division were shipped to Melbourne Australia for nine months recuperation in January 1943. “They were greeted with warm hospitality; these 15,000 young American men found a home away from home”.

On Feb 10, 1943, Paul Thome  purchased a steel-cased wristwatch from a local Melbourne jewelry store, and had it engraved “Paul R. Thomer ~ U.S.M.C. ~ 343824 ~ Australia ~ 2-10-43”.

The 1st Division returned to  combat in the South Pacific in October 1943, leading the December offensive at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. “The action they found there has been described as the toughest man has ever endured.” In July 1944, the 1st Division returned to the US for stateside duty. Paul was honorably discharged in 1945.

In 1954, Paul married Frances Mary LaRoche in Pittsburgh; in 1962, they moved to California. Paul and Frances had five children – two sons and three daughters.  Paul died on February 16, 1992, and is buried with Frances in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, CA.

Book no.1
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