Saturday, September 6, 2014
Friday, September 5, 2014
U.S. reinforcements wade ashore off Saipan. (National Archives)
The remains of a soldier reported missing in action on Saipan 70 years ago will be buried Sept. 12 at Arlington National Cemetery after Defense Department scientists confirmed his identity, according to a DoD news release.
Pfc. Bernard Gavrin, of Brooklyn, New York, served with 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division, which suffered more than 900 casualties, many caused by Japanese suicide attacks, during intense fighting on Saipan that began in June 1944. Gavrin was reported missing in action July 7, according to the DoD release; his status, and that of 21 fellow missing soldiers from the 105th, was changed to dead a year later.
His remains were listed as “nonrecoverable” by the American Graves Registration Service in 1948, but in 2013, a Japanese group seeking remains of Japanese soldiers found three dog tags belonging to U.S. servicemen while excavating mass graves in the caves of Saipan, according to a report in the (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
One tag included Gavrin’s next of kin and his Brooklyn address, the newspaper reported. After the discovery, Army officials told Gavrin’s nephew that his uncle had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other honors, during an Army career that began before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Scientists with Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Library authenticated Gavrin’s remains using “circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gavrin’s cousin,” according to the DoD release.
In recent years, excavations on Saipan by a Japanese nonprofit group have turned up the remains of American and Japanese soldiers.
Last year, the group found remains and personal items of some American soldiers, which were turned over to the American government. Testing using a family member’s DNA confirmed Gavrin was among them.
His 82-year-old nephew David Rogers, of Delray Beach, Florida, said he was planning to be at the burial on Sept. 12. He said it was “absolutely incredible and unbelievable to all of us” that Gavrin would be laid to rest in “the most honorable place you could be buried in this country.”
Rogers, whose mother was Gavrin’s sister, said Gavrin was the youngest of three children and had enlisted in 1940. He said the last time he saw his uncle was when he was 8 years old and his uncle came to visit.
Rogers had injured himself, requiring stitches, and Gavrin went to his bedroom.
“He awakened me and kissed me on the forehead,” Rogers recalled.
Gavrin’s loss was shattering, Rogers said. When the telegram came and Gavrin’s mother, Rogers’ grandmother, opened it, “She let out a scream that lives with me to this day,” he said.
The remains of another soldier, Pfc. Richard L. Bean of Manasass, Virginia, also were identified. Memorial plans for Bean were not announced.
The remains of Pvt. William Yawney of Freemansburg, Pennsylvania, were found in 2011, just yards away from the 2013 excavation. He was laid to rest in a church cemetery in Northampton, Pennsylvania last May.
World War I: German soldier Otto Strube's photographs captured life behind the lines
By Jennifer King
When German photographer Otto Strube was called upon to fulfil his responsibilities of military service at the start of World War I, his camera went along with him.
Now his family have shared his photographs, offering us a remarkable view of the German perspective of the war.
Otto served as a soldier in the German 44th Reserve Field Artillery Regiment and according to his grandson, ABC journalist Bernie Bowen, was involved in many of the battles Australians also fought on the Western Front.
He was born in a village south-east of Berlin in December 1893 and learned the still emerging art of photography, becoming a professional studio photographer.
At the time, there was automatic military service for all men between the ages of 17 and 45 years of age and it was not long before the German Army were utilising Otto's photography skills in various ways.
The resulting images offer us an insight of wartime life for German troops.
PHOTO: A group of German artillery soldiers was identified by Otto after he took this photograph. Bernie says his grandfather was very fond of his horses throughout the war. The back of this photo is a postcard, written by Otto to his father and postmarked August 1913. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: This photograph of fellow soldiers on parade has been made into a postcard, which Otto sent to his father and which is postmarked March 1913. The spiky helmets worn in the photo were known as Pickelhauben and are typically associated with the Prussian army, although the helmet was imitated by other armies during the 19th and 20th centuries. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: Otto stands atop an aircraft which Bernie believes to be an Albatros CI, used by the Germans during WWI for reconnaissance. In this photograph, Otto appears to be adjusting the camera to photograph the cockpit. The Red Baron flew an Albatros DIII at one point, in 1917. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: Two German airmen beside their (unidentified) aircraft prior to a mission and photographed by Otto. The extremely cold conditions experienced by the pilots flying in open-air cockpits at altitude necessitated they be well rugged up to protect them from frostbite. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: A German's officer's funeral in an (unidentified) French town during WWI. Otto is one of the pallbearers. The French words Librairie and Papeterie are written on the wall of the building in the background, indicating a book and stationery shop.(Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: A WWI German bomber, possibly a Friedrichshafen GIII biplane bomber, is being loaded in preparation for a mission. Its reliability and power enabled her to carry a substantial bomb load. The photographer is believed to be Otto, his shadow appearing in the bottom of the photo as he stands with his camera. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: Otto on the left, and a companion share a match to light their cigarettes. One popular German brand at the time was Salem Aleikum Zigaretten. Otto has dated the back of this photo 1918. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: This photo of an unidentified German aircraft was taken by Otto during WWI. The lack of military markings on the aircraft and the fact the men loading the aircraft are not in uniform suggests it is a civilian plane and possibly an airmail delivery, judging by the shape of the sack being loaded aboard. (Supplied: Bowen family )
PHOTO: A group of German soldiers in a Reserve Corps in 1914. Otto is third from the left in the back row. The Reserve Corps was formed at the outbreak of war in August 1914 as part of the mobilisation of the German army. (Supplied: Bowen family)
PHOTO: Otto wrote this postcard to his father in August 1913. He was a prolific writer of cards to his family and many of these were photographs turned into postcards. (Supplied: Bowen family)