Hilbert Margol and his twin brother, Howard, served in the 42nd “Rainbow” Division out of Oklahoma during World War II; both served as gunners with 105MM gun batteries. They would be shipped to Europe in early 1945, serving in the Alsace, Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns. Both brothers witnessed the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, and both served with the Army of Occupation in Austria just after the war ended.
“Pat” Flynn joined the Army in 1943, wanting to join the 10th Mountain Division as a skier. Instead, he was trained for combat infantry. He served with the 157th Infantry Regiment, and saw action in Italy and France. After the war, he stayed a civilian for about a year before rejoining the Army for another 20 years. Flynn would see action in Korea with the 9th Infantry Regiment, and in Vietnam as part of the Special Forces.
Interview conducted by James Ramsey
Mario Aiello grew up in Readville (part of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston) and was drafted into the Army in 1942. He became a Technician 5th Grade, and was part of the 5th Army’s 75th Field Artillery Battalion. Aiello saw action in North Africa and Italy, and would earn a Bronze Star.
This interview was conducted with Aiello’s son, Stephen Duggan, at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
James Nicholl Jr. joined the Navy in 1944 to honor his father and history teacher. He would serve on several vessels, including an armed cargo vessel and mine sweeper, in Scotland, Russia and the North Atlantic. Nicholl would also serve during the Korean War.
Arnold Bopp joined some friends and enlisted into the Army in 1954. He served for 20 years in the Army’s Security Agency as a teletype operator and teletype interceptor. He served twice in Alaska, as well as Berlin, Fort Devens and Vietnam.
“Fred” Lucontoni was drafted into the Army in 1943, and served in General George Patton’s 3rd Army, 733 Field Artillery Service Battery, as a machine gunner. He remembered seeing “thousands of planes” flying overhead en route to a bombing mission at St. Lo in France; Lucontoni also took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center by James Ramsey.
Jacob Darnel enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating from high school in Kentucky. He learned cryptography, and was assigned to Paris to help establish the Defense Command Agency. He would also be assigned to Vietnam to help run a message center near Da Nang Harbor.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center; interview conducted by volunteer Jim Ramsey.
Holocaust survivor, Poland and Russia
Hyman Hipsman grew up in Wlodawa, Poland; after the German invasion in 1939, he went to work for a German war contractor, Bernhard Falkenburg, who saved Hipsman’s life on several occasions. When Falkenburg could no longer protect him, Hipsman went into hiding, and eventually joined a group of Russian partisans. Hipsman would lose his parents, two brothers and sister to Nazi atrocities.
U.S. Army, 1943-45
Walter Gilbert was born and raised in Cambridge. While a student at Northeastern University, he enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps, and was called up in 1943. Gilbert served in the 104th Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division as a platoon sergeant. He would see action in France, Luxembourg and Belgium, and would earn a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor for his service.
Harold Eckman was born in Worcester, the son of immigrants. He attended Clark University in Worcester, and joined the U.S. Army Reserve Corps in 1942. Eckman would eventually head to Europe as part of the 94th Infantry Division, where he served as mail orderly, delivering (and sometimes censoring) mail for his company.