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Oldest EM in combat during WW2


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#1 Buckshot329

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 03:45 AM

Hi all

 

Earlier today I was talking with a friend discussing his grandfather's service during WW2. Because he served as a 42 year old we figured he must have been one of the oldest (if not the oldest) EM serving in combat within his division. We might be off of course because we don't have the numbers but it did spark my interest as an interesting research question. A quick first search didn't yield any answers so I thought I'd reach out to you experts on here to see if we could answer this question.

 

Is the oldest EM who served in combat during WW2 with the US Army known? And how old was he?

 

Looking forward to the discussion



#2 268th C.A.

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 04:27 AM

LOL although I do not know the answer, my father a WW2 combat veteran, said there was an old man in the regt. He said everyone called him "Pappy" he said he missed formations all the time, wondeded off, and no one seemed to say anything too him, A WW1 Veteran I'm sure. Dad said he looked 70 to him, I'm sure not that old, but to a 18 year old, I'm sure he did. I do remember him saying that....



#3 JasonT

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 04:32 AM

What rank was his grandfather? If he was a 1st Sergeant or Master Sergeant its definitely possible. In combat anyone over the age of 30 was considered an old man. Ironically though back then your friends grandfather was probably in better shape than most 20-somethings today.

#4 Buckshot329

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:01 AM

He did serve as a First Sergeant with the 329th and received a Purple Heart & BSM for heroism during the Normandy campaign. Again not claiming he was the oldest but I thought it was a pretty interesting question. During WW1 he lied about his age trying to enlist but that attempt fell through.



#5 USMCR79

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:27 AM

There was an Army Enlisted Man named Sven Chilstedt who served in Co A 104th In WWI And re-enlisted in WWII and served with the same unit - “A” 104th Infantry when he was KIA in 1945 at age 47 - There was an article about him in the OMSA Journal earlier this year

Bill

#6 Garandomatic

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:08 AM

Same unit and Kia at 47... holy cow.

#7 JasonT

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:40 AM

Just saw online that Chilstedt was a Pfc as well when he died and re-enlisted in 1942. If he wasnt one of the oldest EM in combat, he certainly was one of the oldest Pfc's.

#8 JasonT

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:49 AM

Here is a good bio and photo of Pfc Chilstedt's WW2 medals

https://www.emedals....ds-october-1944

#9 Allan H.

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 08:56 AM

A Couple of things to think about- there were a lot of WWI retreads serving in World War II, especially in the National Guard Divisions. Most WWI veterans were born prior to 1900, so the majority of these WWI vents were well into their forties when they went back to war in WWII.

 

Another thing that collectors need to remember about the US Army prior to Vietnam- rank was NOT an automatic thing and was restricted to specific openings in the individual units. A sergeant in one company could get transferred to another company in the same battalion and lose his stripes because there wasn't a sergeant's billet available in the other company. Also in this time, ranks went up and down like a flag on a flagpole with soldiers receiving promotions and demotions at the whim of the company first sergeant or company commander.

 

Finally, the majority of soldiers in WWII had LESS than an 8th grade education. There were large numbers of soldiers who were illiterate who could not perform the duties of a non-commissioned officer. Soldiers could spend twenty years in the service and never even make Private First Class.

 

I have a 4 pocket blouse that I will post soon to a soldier in the 182nd Infantry regiment who served overseas for nearly four years in WWII who never made PFC. For current veterans, this is unfathomable, but in WWII it was actually the norm.

 

Allan



#10 JasonT

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 09:28 AM

Thanks Allan, all great points that I had forgotten about. My own grandfather didnt get past the 6th grade and was considered illiterate but he could handle and was good with a BAR. Had the war not ended or if he re-enlisted for Korea, he probably would have always remained a Private.

#11 everforward

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 09:40 AM

I have an Ike from a 116th IR vet, born in 1901, enlisted in the NG in 1920....by the time the 29th ID was training at Ft. Meade in 1942, he was 41 years old and still part of a training cadre rifle company of men as a SSG. Prior to the 29th leaving for England he had been transferred to the QMC and still went to the ETO, but did Graves Registrations.



#12 P-40Warhawk

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 11:41 AM

A relative of mine was about 45 when he entered the USAAF. (born in the 1890s).



#13 gomorgan

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 12:14 PM

My father in law enlisted in 42 I believe at 36 and made it through flight training and was a Aerial Engineer on B-24's, and I'm sure there were EM much older than him who served.



#14 lakenormanusa

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 12:25 PM

Although not Army, Sgt. John Nagazyna earned his second Navy Cross in WWII at the age of 46.

 

ANagazyna.jpg

 



#15 USMCR79

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 01:27 PM

Here is a good bio and photo of Pfc Chilstedt's WW2 medals

https://www.emedals....ds-october-1944

 

I was once the "Caretaker" of this group many years ago

 

Bill



#16 JasonT

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 02:35 PM

 
I was once the "Caretaker" of this group many years ago
 
Bill


Cool, do you know or ever find out what happened to his WWI medals or why they weren't part of the grouping?

#17 917601

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 02:42 PM

This brings up a question I had asked my father ( 86th Infantry Division, 342nd Infantry Regiment) when he was a Legion Commander for 20 some years, " When drafted, how long were you required to serve"? He had said " For the duration". He was unsympathetic to the Nam vets in his group who were required to serve 12 months and rotated out. When was the draft officially instituted? And what were the age limits?

#18 USMCR79

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 02:58 PM

Cool, do you know or ever find out what happened to his WWI medals or why they weren't part of the grouping?

 

No - This was a late replacement group - another collector I know has his original 1945 medals

 

Bill



#19 JasonT

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 04:13 PM

 
No - This was a late replacement group - another collector I know has his original 1945 medals
 
Bill


Yes, I see now they are post war medals. Thank you

#20 P-40Warhawk

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 06:30 PM

This brings up a question I had asked my father ( 86th Infantry Division, 342nd Infantry Regiment) when he was a Legion Commander for 20 some years, " When drafted, how long were you required to serve"? He had said " For the duration". He was unsympathetic to the Nam vets in his group who were required to serve 12 months and rotated out. When was the draft officially instituted? And what were the age limits?

 

 

The draft ended with WWI, until 1940 when the selective service act was passed that required all able bodied males up to age 36 I think to register for a national draft. That is why they started having the drafted men enter in 1940-41 (the song 'Goodbye dear I'll be home in a year' referenced their typical obligation in the peacetime draft). When Pearl Harbor was attacked it changed everything. At that point all the enlistments were extended for the duration of the national emergency plus 6 months I believe. It changed a few times as they fine tuned it. Anyway, after Pearl Harbor they came up with what has been called the 'old mans draft', that had all able bodied men from 36 to 64 register. That is it in a nutshell, but google Selective Service act 1940 and it will probably bring up some detailed articles.



#21 patches

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:23 PM

Although not Army, Sgt. John Nagazyna earned his second Navy Cross in WWII at the age of 46.

 

attachicon.gifANagazyna.jpg

 

http://www.usmilitar...azyna-usmc-ret/



#22 patches

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:27 PM

:P :D :lol:

 

v1..jpg

 



#23 patches

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:34 PM

You had one Paul Douglas politician with no prior service in the Great War, at 50 years of age he enlisted and was excepted into the Marine Corps, though he did eventually become an officer.

 

post-34986-0-71004500-1368128272.jpg

 

 

Military service

 

As alderman, Douglas had worked with Chicago Daily News publisher Frank Knox in fighting corruption in Chicago. Knox, who had been Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1936, had become Secretary of the Navy, thus responsible for both the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Shortly after losing the primary, Douglas resigned from the Chicago City Council and, with the aid of Knox, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a private at the age of 50. As a member of the 57th Street Meeting of the Quakers, Douglas recognized that joining the Marines was contrary to the traditional testimony of that group against war and offered to resign his membership; the meeting refused to release him. Promoted to corporal, then to sergeant, Douglas was kept stateside, writing training manuals, and giving inspirational speeches to troops. He was told he was "too old to go overseas 'as an enlisted man'". With the aid of Knox, and of Knox assistant Adlai Stevenson, Douglas was commissioned as an officer, and was subsequently sent to the Pacific theater of operations with the 1st Marine Division.

 

On the second day of the Battle of Peleliu, Captain Douglas finally saw action when his unit waded into the fray. He earned a Bronze Star for carrying ammunition to the front lines under enemy fire and earned his first Purple Heart when he was grazed by shrapnel while carrying flamethrower ammunition to the front lines. In that six-week battle, while investigating some random fire shootings, Douglas was shot at as he uncovered a two-foot-wide cave. He then killed the Japanese soldier inside at which point he wondered whether his enemy might be an economics professor from the University of Tokyo.

 

A few months later, during the Battle of Okinawa, Douglas earned his second Purple Heart. A volunteer rifleman in an infantry platoon, he was helping to carry wounded from 3rd Battalion 5th Marines along the Naha-Shuri line when a burst of machine gun fire tore through his left arm, severing the main nerve and leaving it permanently disabled.

After a thirteen-month stay in the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, Douglas was given an honorable discharge as a Lieutenant Colonel with full disability pay.

 

Here's his plaque at Parris Island.

post-34986-0-11768700-1368128144.jpg


Edited by patches, 28 December 2018 - 10:36 PM.


#24 67Rally

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 12:32 AM

My uncle turned 45 in August of '44 and he served in combat in the ETO.



#25 Bigdogakabu

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 02:51 AM

Lets not forget Leland Lou Diamond who enlisted in 1917 and fought in all battles with the 6th Marines in France and who also served with the 5th Marines during the Battle of Guadalcanal at the of 52 in 1942.

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