Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Henri Chapelle American Cemetery
Today we were off to Belgium to finally find Joe.
For all Veterans
As the wreaths appeared on the wreath bench beneath the Guardian Angel statue that stands on top of the large pillar just behind the wreath bench.
HENRI CHAPELLE AMERICAN CEMETERY Video is 9 minutes. It tells this story so much better than the written word. The book for Joe’s file couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of his family, Todd and Susan Slattery, who provided family pictures of Joe and his brothers and sisters when they were children as well as him and his brothers when they were in uniform and preparing to go to war. Also including a copy of the newspaper article (the original still in the family’s possession) about the family and all the telegrams they received notifying them of the missing and losses of these three brothers – only one of which returned from the war.
The following pictures and documentation are representative of what was included in the book Bill left at Henri Chapelle to be kept in Joe’s file through eternity.
THE ENDRESS BROTHERS
S/Sgt. Joseph G. Endress
2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, Co. B
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment “Red Devils”
82nd Airborne Division
Battle Star Normandy, D-Day, France
Battle Star Operation Market Garden, Nijmegen, Holland
Battle of the Bulge, Belgium, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster
July 6, 1923 – January 31, 1945
Joseph was the eldest of the Endress brothers.
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Pfc. Raymond Endress
Raymond was the middle brother.
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S. 2/c Melvin H. Endress
July 21, 1926 – March 19, 1945*
Melvin was the youngest of the Endress brothers.
Seaman Endress served aboard the USS Franklin in the Pacific. On March 19, 1945 the Franklin maneuvered within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, closer than any other U.S. carrier had done during the war. Suddenly, a single enemy plane pierced the cloud cover and made a low level run dropping two semi-armor piercing bombs. Both struck the flight deck causing enormous fires in the hangar deck below which threatened the ship and left 724 killed and 265 wounded. Seaman Endress was one of those 724 killed – just a little over six weeks after his brother, Sgt. Endress, was lost.
Seaman Endress is memorialized on the panels of the missing erected on the Cenotaph in the Courts of the Missing, Court 3, of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.
*The memorial card prepared for the service for these two fallen brothers lists Melvin as having died on April 4, 1945. In checking the records for the USS Franklin he is listed as killed along with 723 of his fellow sailors on March 19, 1945.
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Because of the snow on the ground, this picture was probably taken while Sgt. Endress, (on the right) was stationed in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge which makes this photo probably December 1944-January 1945.
The paratrooper on the left is Alex D. Langham. His rank is not known. He was Company B, 1st Battalion, 508th “Red Devils”, 82 Airborne.
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The family still has the original telegram. Bill had kept the Memorial Card for Joe and Melvin all these years.
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The following information was taken from a newspaper article about the three brothers. Referring to the content it appears that the article was written in 1945. The photo shown is a copy of the original newspaper which is in the family’s possession.
“Vet Unaware 2 Brother-Warriors Dead”
“Six War, Navy Department Tidings Come to One Home”
“Norwood Family Hopes Surviving Son Will Be Returned Home
From Combat Zone”
“In the past eight months, six War and Navy Department telegrams have been delivered at the Endress home [Norwood, Ohio].
Mr. and Mrs. Adam Endress have found it hard to realize that they never will see two of their boys. Sgt. Joseph Endress, 21, was killed in action in Belgium Jan. 31. The latest telegram told how Seaman Melvin Endress, 18, died of wounds while serving aboard a ship in the Pacific.
The third son, Pfc. Raymond Endress, 20, in Germany, is unaware that his brothers are dead.
The first of the six telegrams was received by Mr. and Mrs. Endress when Raymond was listed as missing in action in France, Aug. 31. Later notification came that he had been separated from his unit, and was safe.
The next message reported that Joseph was wounded in action in Holland Nov 9. A third telegram said Raymond was wounded in Germany Nov. 30.
Subsequent notifications from the government told of the deaths of Melvin and Joseph.
Mr. and Mrs. Endress hope Raymond will be returned to this country. He has been in combat in Germany, but now is in a rest camp. Two daughters, Helen, 17, and Dorothy, 14, are at home.”
In the family photo from the far right side, counting those standing, Raymond is the 5th and Joe is the 7th. Melvin is in the first row, far right, sitting on the floor.
The Endress family
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The following is extracted from Joe’s Remembrance Book.
On this day, May 6, 2015, this book of memories is presented by William F. Knapp in remembrance of his best friend. That in the years to come, the world will have a record and story of the Endress family’s sacrifices and service. Of two brothers lost and the one who survived.
For 70 years, Mr. Knapp never knew where his best friend had been interred. He helped to carry Sgt. Endress to the medics. He attempted to locate where he had been taken but was never successful. Then Mr. Knapp was invited to return to Holland for that country’s 70th Anniversary Celebration of Liberation. It would be the first time for him to return to Holland since his service in WWII – 70 long years ago.
With a bit of deductive research by a couple of Mr. Knapp’s friends, it was determined that in all probability Sgt. Endress could be interred in one of the three American cemeteries in Belgium. With today’s internet computer world, within a couple of hours Sgt. Endress had been found. And so began the odyssey to visit Sgt. Endress and honor him. Perhaps bringing peace to a man who has grieved for the loss of his best friend for 70 long years. One – eternally 21 years old – the other just weeks from turning 93.
May you rest in peace Sgt. Endress, knowing you will never be forgotten.
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After taking care of business, it was time to place the wreaths, and to visit Joe.
FINDING JOE Video is 8 minutes. Again, the video tells this story so much better than words. The wind was blowing something fierce this day so the audio quality is a bit difficult but if you turn up the volume conversation can be better heard.
The sand that is used to highlight the Veterans names and info on their crosses comes from Normandy, Omaha Beach.
It was a very difficult time.
This journey to find Joe brought great peace to Bill. He now can talk about Joe more easily as well as his war experiences. This was Joe’s final gift to Bill.
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It was now a time for friends and family to come together in preparation for saying goodbye. Tomorrow we will head to Amsterdam to begin our journey home.
From Henri Chapelle we returned to Ouddorp. Suze and Fred were hosting a BBQ at Suze’s house also including a Canadian WWII Veteran – Roly – and his son Mick, along with Fred and Suze’s father Gert Hoek, Fred’s wife Ellen and their daughters Iris and Lisa. Suze’s daughter, Esther did the cooking and marvelous it was. Ellen made the best apple pie I have ever had.
As we sat around the table relaxing after eating, Mick brought out his guitar. He has a band, the Mick Armitage Band, and he is the drummer. But he sang for us and played the guitar just fine. We all enjoyed the camaraderie.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY Video is 4 minutes. Even the family dogs got into the act. Suze’s Bouvier Arco was HUGE and loved everyone. Fred’s Lab Molly wasn’t so sure about us. She had fairly quickly warmed up to Bill a few days prior but she would raise her lip at me. However…..at the BBQ she decided she really did like me – hiding under the table as I fed her tidbits – she soon was my bosom buddy wanting hugs and pets as much as Arco.
Molly the Lab, Iris, Arco the Bouvier, Esther, Lisa
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