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Closure After 65 Years; A 506th Vet's Story


Tom Kibler

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I've relayed this story some years ago, before I visited here. I thought some of you would enjoy this....

 

This is a story near and dear to me. Some years ago I was introduced to an older gentleman at our church. I knew his daughter and she knew my interest in WWII history. His name, Dick Day.

 

Dick and I began talking and I soon learned why he had such interest. His brother was Pvt. John Kenneth Day HQ Co. 1/506th (Bazooka Platoon). Dick told me that his brother was killed in Holland in 1944. As he told me the story, it was clear that he had no idea what had ever happened to his brother. Dick was 16 in 1944. In 1945, Dick joined the Army. While he was away, WWII ended and he was told that a man had stopped by his home and told his parents that he had been a friend of "Kens" and was with him just before he was killed. Dick told me that he has always felt "lost", because his parents never really filled him in before their death.

 

All Dick knew was the name of "Gus Liapes". So the search was on. How could I honor Dick, how could I honor Ken? Well, the following is the blessing we all received.

 

Try as I may, I was not having a lot of luck finding Gus Liapes. I put the search on hold to do some other research on other 101st vets. In so doing, I had occasion to call and speak at length one George Koskimaki. Koskimaki, as many of you know was General Taylor's radioman and is author to three books about the 101st's experiences during WWII.

 

George and I spoke several times about other vets, and he helped me a great deal. Then, I asked him about Pvt. John Kenneth Day. George not only knew him, but also told me when and where he had been killed. Going further, I asked about a "Gus" Liapes. George corrected me and said his name is actually: Charles A. Liapes. He had his address and phone number, the hunt continues.

 

I was unable to make contact with Liapes. So, being an officer, I contacted the police department and received some professional courtesy. Before I knew it, I received a call from Liapes.

 

One thing lead to another, and Liapes agreed to stop by the home of Dick Day.

 

In May of this year [2009], "Gus" and Dick sat down. Dick finally learned how his brother had been killed.

 

On 2 or 3 October 1944, outside of Opheusden, Holland. The Germans attacked with armor and infantry. During this initial assault, Day single-handedly took out a German piece of armor with 4-5 bazooka rounds. On 5 October 44, the assault escalated. According to Liapes (who had been wounded by this time and only learned of this account through the years of reunions) his platoon was pinned down by more armor. Pvt. John Kenneth Day, perhaps feeling he could do it again, picked up a bazooka and charged the tank. As he passed the tank, he fired, hoping to place the round between the body and the turret, thus disabling the tank. The round was deflected and Day turned to run for cover. Still seen as a threat, the tank turned and fired at nearly point-blank range killing Day instantly. (A more graphic account was relayed which I will not state here).

 

So, after nearly 65 years, Dick Day learned how his brother lived, fought and died with untold honor, giving his life for the brothers-in-arms who were pinned down.

 

God Bless you, Ken Day.

 

I relayed this account to George Koskimaki and others.

 

Here what follows are some photos for you all to enjoy!

 

 

Dick Day and Gus Liapes

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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This is a photo of the anti Tank platoon HQ Co. 1/506th just before OPERATION MARKET GARDEN.

 

Ken Day is indicated at top.

 

The amazing thing is that Dick Day had NEVER seen this photo of his brother. When I showed him the photo, it took all of a half a second for him to say "There he is"! Tears followed.

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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In one of several letters the family handed me, was this poor photo copy of Ken Day. Quite the comic, he drew a mustache and beard on himself, wanting the family to get a laugh.

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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Ken was killed on 5 October 1944. He was initially interred in the US Cemetery at Margraten. This photo was taken there. Day was reinterred back in the US, where he remains today.

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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This is a copy of the letter Col. Sink sent to the family after their campaign and before the Bulge.

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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I have lots more photos and letters, but I really want to honor the man and men that did so much. Dick is forever grateful to Gus and they are in contact regularly. In the photos of me and Gus, you can still see the brace he wears as a result of his wounds in Holland. Age and dementia is taking its toll on Gus now.

 

Ken is my avatar. It's a small way I can honor him every time I'm on the board.

 

Thanks.

 

TK

Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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Tom,

 

Thanks for sharing this. It must have been very difficult never knowing for sure what happened.

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Collecting WWII Armor and Tank Destroyer Items

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Tom,

There is a vet local to me that was also a member of the infamous "HaHa" squad ( bazooka platoon) he is in the famous Marmion farm photo with Flannigan from C/502 holding the German flag. Next time I see him I will ask him if he remembers him. Great story, better than any artifact, the real history passed onto you. Paul

 

Si vis pacem, para bellum

 

https://www.facebook.com/BROLHD

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  • 1 month later...

Today, the story was published in a local paper. The writer lost some details and mixed up some others, but overall, it isn't bad.

 

I figured you would all enjoy this!

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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memphismeister

This was truly a heart felt reading. :salute:

Son of

CW2 Bernard E Meister 2/14/70

334th AHC 69/70 189th AHC 67/68 155th AHC 67

TAC Officer 1968 Fort Wolters

USMC 1956-1959

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  • 3 weeks later...
Corpsmancollector

Tom,

 

Thank you for taking the time to post this for us all here on the board. As we all know some amazing stories have been relayed here over the years and I have to say this is one of the most heart touching and emotional reads I have read on USMF. You have done a truly amazing thing through your hours (probably days!) of research to keep the history of Pvt. John Kenneth Day alive.

 

Bravo!

 

Will

WWII USMC & USN - CAMOUFLAGE / CORPSMAN / PARAMARINE / MARINE RAIDER / DENIM / DECK JACKETS.

 

VIETNAM - CAMOUFLAGE / SF / 'IN-COUNTRY' ITEMS.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you. The Day and Liapes family are close friends. It meant the world to me to be there, here the stories and see the closure and pride knowing his brother died to save so many.

Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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  • 1 month later...

For those of you who have followed this story, here is Pvt. John Kenneth Day's headstone today.

 

May he Rest in Peace.

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Always on the look out for quality WWII U.S. Paratrooper items: tlckkibler@msn.com

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  • 4 weeks later...

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