V. Russell Henry
V. Russell Henry was a member of the 34th Infantry Division. He was drafted after the attack on Pearl Harbor, went for basic training, and was sent to England in the fall of 1942. The 34th was soon stationed in Tunisia, North Africa, with British forces under the command of Montgomery, facing the German Afrika Corps. Henry was part of the 138th Rifle Company that occupied a hill to the south of the Kasserine Pass. In battle, the German tanks advanced through the pass. The Americans were defeated and on February 14, 1943, Henry’s unit was surrounded. He was processed as a POW on February 17th and later transported to Italy, and then to Eastern Germany/Poland to Stalag IIB where he was assigned to a prison farm. In early 1945, the prisoners were marched westward under harsh conditions in response to the rapidly advancing Russians. In May, the prisoners were released and safely rejoined their comrades. Henry was reunited with his young wife.
Fergus Hegan, an 18 year old Irish immigrant, joined the US Army in 1942 as a member of the 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Mechanized. A Technical Corporal of vehicle maintenance, he and his unit were sent to England in 1943 to prepare for the D-Day build up. On June 6th, 1944, Hegan’s unit boarded a ship in the English Channel, arriving at their destination two days later. He continued to experience the front-lines of war. His was the first American unit to reach Paris with the mission to clear out pockets of resistance and snipers. They were later involved on the northern flank of the Battle of the Bulge and held their ground against the Germans in December 1944. The 102nd fought their way into Czechoslovakia and to the town of Pilsen. To this day Pilsen has an annual celebration honoring the American forces that liberated them. Hegan married Irene, a radar specialist in the British Royal Air Force.Fergus Hegan is among the veterans honored in Optimax’s “Honoring our American Warfighers” ad. Hegan is standing in the cockpit of a German Stuka, JU-87g, an update of a d model dive bomber built in the late 1930’s. These planes were remodeled into anti-tank planes for use against the newer Soviet tanks being used on the Eastern front.The plane pictured was assigned to the Western front to use against the US tanks. Hegan’s unit captured the airfield after the German’s retreat.
John Umber, born in 1941, was a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division from 1962 to 1966. He belonged to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, which was also known as “The Mustangs”. Umber trained at Fort Bening, GA, and Fort Hood, TX, as a medic. He served in Seoul, Korea, at an Army hospital. John Umber passed away in January, 2006.
Homer Gauthier, born in 1923, was a member of the U.S. Army’s 87th Infantry Division from 1942 to 1945. He belonged to the 34th Infrantry Regiment, K Company, which was also known as “The Golden Acorn”. His training began in Camp McCain, MS, moved to Tennessee, and ended at Fort Jackson, SC. Gauthier was deployed to the European theater in 1944 were he saw combat in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. Gauthier was on the front in Belgium during The Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded by Nazi artillery in the Argon Forest in Germany, for which he received the Purple Heart. Gauthier also received the Good Conduct medal as well as theater and victory awards. He carried shrapnel in his leg until the day of his death on April 10, 2000.
Francis Gauthier was a Second Class Fire Controlman for the U.S. Navy during World War II. He became part of the first crew aboard the Richard P. Leary. The Leary was credited with two torpedo hits on a Japanese warship that, at the time, was the largest ship in the world. The destroyer had engaged in supporting fire during battles in Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Palau, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. For his service, Francis was awarded the Asia-Pacific Area Ribbon with six stars and the Japanese Liberation Ribbon with two stars for the invasion of the Surigao Strait.
Jeremy enlisted in the Navy in 2002 after he graduated from high school. He served on Aircraft Carrier USS John F Kennedy from September 2003 until it was decommissioned in 2006 at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, FL. During that time he was deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, serving on Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan from 2007 to 2009 at Coronado Naval Air Station in San Diego, CA. He ending his service in 2010. A few of the awards and commendations he received during his service include: The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 times), Navy Good Conduct Medal twice, and the National Defense Service Medal.
Alejandro was a member of the USAF from 1998 to 2006. He served as a Senior Airman and Aircrew Life Support Instructor for the first part of his career. After joining the ROTC program through the Rochester Institute of Technology he became a cadet wing commander responsible for 90 cadets. Upon graduation he rose to 1st Lieutenant and was the Chief of Standardization and Evaluation with the 10th Space Warning Squadron. A few of his assignments include: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Cavalier Air Force Station, and Lackland Air Force Base. He was a recipient of numerous awards to include the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Professional Performer Award, and Crew Commander of the Year.
Joseph served as a grade Tec 4 in the Core of Engineers for water systems for the Army in 1946. He was stationed in Korea to engineer all the water systems that went in to the camps. He was given a private plane and pilot to transport him throughout Korea. Some of awards include the WWII Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal.
Ray joined the U.S. Marine Corp. back in 1968 as a cook/rifleman. Upon completion of initial training, he was sent to the 3rd Medical Battalion, H&S Co, 3rd Marine Div. in Quang Tri, Vietnam. He was assigned as a graveyard shift baker and his nickname soon became, “Baker.” He later was reassigned to patrol and guard duty where Ray severely injured his back due to the rugged terrain and was sent back to the states where he soon after was discharged from the Marine Corp.
William F. Green
Bill served in the US Navy from 1965 to 1967 as an Aviation Jet Mechanic. He was originally stationed in Norfolk, Virginia assigned to Helicopter/Anti Submarine Squadron 5 aboard the USS Randolph then reassigned to Squadron 7 in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In early 1967, he switched jobs to Photographers Mate because of his pre-Navy employment at Eastman Kodak Company. He was required to take pictures of damaged aircrafts, human casualties, Russian submarines, and shot the recovery of the Apollo 7 astronauts. Bill retired in 1969 at the Rank of Photographers Mate 3rd Class.