Oct 11

A combat mission photo of Lieutenant Bruce Evans’ B-17, nicknamed “Rack And Ruin.” The nose art depicts King Kong holding bombs. This image is courtesy of the 486th Bomb Group Association.

Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel, of Mercersville, New Jersey, is conducting a new research project that seeks to uncover and present the stories of American soldiers killed in World War Two, and who are now buried in the Gettysburg Soldiers National Cemetery.

Resting near the Civil War dead – and overlooked by many visitors – are two seamen killed at Pearl Harbor, 11 who fell in the D-Day landings, an artilleryman killed in the infamous Malmedy massacre, the young pilots of B-17’s, B-24 Liberators, and B-26 Marauders, a P-51 fighter ace, and one boy from the Allentown, Pennsylvania area, who was killed in the Marine Corps’ first Pacific battle on Guadalcanal at the shocking age of 15.

The Gettysburg cemetery is most widely recognized as a Civil War landmark, particularly as the site of the immortal address delivered by President Lincoln in 1863. But of the roughly 7,000 veteran graves, more than 1,600 are for veterans of World War Two, and nearly 500 of those men died during that war.

“My concern is that these brave Americans who lost their lives – many of them extremely young – do not receive our attention and our affection,” said Siegel.

Ralph has documented the 494 graves of World War Two dead buried at Gettysburg whose dates of death coincide with the years of the war. Digital images were made of each grave and used to enhance unreadable grave markings. Databases from the National Archive and the National WWII Memorial helped confirm that 433 of these veterans died in battle or in combat-related missions. The names are listed at a special research website, www.WW2atGettysburg.com.

“I hope the tours and the web site will prompt family members and unit historians to make contact and send along records, recollections or tips on where to find records,” said Siegel. “We are trying to collect documents, to confirm details and to make sure that these important, dramatic stories are also told here at Gettysburg.”

Ralph Siegel has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park since 2004, and he has long taken a special interest in conducting cemetery tours.

In the first World War II at Gettysburg post, Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel introduced us to the series, and showed us individuals killed in action at Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal.

In the second World War II at Gettysburg post, Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel shows the final resting place of individuals killed during the Italian Campaign, and in air operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the third World War II at Gettysburg post, Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel shows the final resting place of individuals killed at Normandy, Iwo Jima, Saipan, Guam, and Okinawa.

In the fourth World War II at Gettysburg post, Ralph Siegel shows us the graves of one of the first land based soldiers to enter Germany during the war, and some individuals killed at the Battle of the Bulge and Okinawa.

In today’s World War II at Gettysburg post, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel presents the graves of some individuals buried in Section 1 and Section 3 of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

To contact Ralph, you can click here to reveal his email address.

This map shows the location of the videos for the World War II at Gettysburg series. Videos #1-#10 were taken in Section 2 of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Video #11 was taken in Section 1 of the Cemetery. Video #12 was taken in Section 3 of the Cemetery. This map was created facing north at approximately 6:00 PM on Monday, October 4, 2010.

This map shows the only three “outer” sections of the Gettysburg National Cemetery which contain the 495 graves of men who died during World War Two. This map, created facing east, is courtesy of Ralph Siegel.

Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel is kneeling by the graves of Albert McDeavitt, killed during the Battle of the Bulge, and William Laffin, who was killed on D-Day. This view was taken facing west at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.
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In Video #11 (Videos #1-#10 were shown in the previous World War II at Gettysburg posts) Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel shows us the graves of some individuals buried in Section 1 of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. This view was taken facing east to northwest at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

John T. Davidson was killed near the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Howard Nutt was an Engineer killed on D-Day. This view was taken facing west at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Robert Engel was a Marine killed on Saipan. This view was taken facing west at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Alex Cosa was a bulldozer driver killed on the Burma Road. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel is standing at the Lincoln Address Memorial near the Taneytown Road entrance to the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Behind the monument is the cemetery’s Section 3. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.
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In Video #12 Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel shows the graves of some individuals buried in Section 3 of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. This view was taken facing southeast to south at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel is standing by the almost illegible headstone of Corporal Frank Kvasnosky, who was a Military Policeman killed on Omaha Beach while attempting to direct traffic on June 6, 1944. Kvasnosky, who also fought in North Africa and Sicily, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star. There is a building named after him at Fort Gordon, but he doesn’t rate a clean headstone at Gettysburg. This view was taken facing south at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel is standing by the grave of Bruce William Evans, who was a B-17 pilot of the “Rack and Ruin” shown in the first picture of this post. This view was taken facing south at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Lieutenant Evans was shot down over Germany in February, 1945. This view was taken facing south at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Lieutenant Bruce William Evans, 22, of St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and of the 832nd Bomb Squadron, 486th Bomb Group. Evans is the only pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress buried in the National Cemetery. He was killed on a mission on February 6, 1945, a period when bomber casualties had fallen dramatically because of fighter escorts. This image is courtesy of the National World War II Memorial.

Sergeant William J. Copeland was killed on D-Day. This view was taken facing south at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Copeland was awarded the Bronze Star. This view was taken facing south at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 11, 2010.

This chart provides a breakdown of where the World War II Gettysburg dead are buried. There are 1624 World War II veterans in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. 494 of them died during the war, and 431 were killed in action. There are 433 headstones because the bodies of two individuals were never recovered. This chart is courtesy of Ralph Siegel.

To see other posts by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, click here.


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