The WWII 300th Combat Engineers

Newsletters Page Image
The 300th at war.

Newsletters: Winter 2013

newspaper headline

Veterans Day Commentary

Veterans Day again this year in most communities came and left with small parades, brief ceremonies and, for many, a day off from work. We hold this date aside to honor our veterans both of wartime and peacetime. Did anyone notice that this is the first year when worldwide no veteran of WWI was alive?

The last living veteran of WWI worldwide was a British citizen who served in the Allied Forces. Florence Green died 4 February 2012 at the age of 110. The last combat veteran of WWI was Claude Choules who served in the British Royal Navy. He died 5 May 2011 also at the age of 110.

The last living U.S. veteran of WWI passed away on 27 February 2011 in Charles Town, Virginia. He was 110 years old. Corporal Frank Buckles served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe where one of his assignments was to escort German prisoners. Later, he became a ship’s officer on merchant vessels and was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during WWII and became a prisoner himself for three years. Corporal Buckles spent years lobbying for recognition of forgotten veterans of WWI.

Around the world, it is estimated that 65 million men and women served their countries in WWI with nearly 10 million resulting wartime deaths.

So the time has passed when we can personally honor a veteran of WWI. But we now know that we should never pass up an opportunity to thank and honor veterans of all of the wars and in peacetime. With the loss of 600 WWII veterans every day and having lost our own good friends from the 300th, we are reminded that it will not be many years until few of the WWII veterans will be with us. So now is the time to remember.

A simple “thank you for your service” means a lot to these thousands of men and women who have served and are serving. Let’s go beyond the parade and ceremony taking it upon ourselves to initiate a handshake and a thank you as often as the opportunity is presented. We know we are “preaching to the choir” in this message but it is good to remind ourselves of the many sacrifices many have made to make our freedoms possible.

Brad Peters and Jan Ross

Two accounts bring this issue home. 300th good friend Jack Burk was recognized by the community and the newly introduced 300th veteran Andy Grinnik was honored by his family, both on Veterans Day 2012.

Andy Grinnik Honored

Several months ago, Andy Haas contacted the 300th web site asking if he could copy some information on the site related to LST 523. The reason for his request was his plan to honor his step-father, Andy Grinnik, who was aboard LST 523 when it sank off Normandy on 19 June 1944. In fact, Pfc Andy Grinnik wrote the official Army Affidavit of the sinking of LST 523. Andy Haas wished to print the material from the site and present it on Veterans Day, November 11, 2012. He received permission with encouragement to honor Andy Grinnik, one of the last survivors of the tragedy of LST 523.  The family meeting took place as planned with several members of the Grinnik and Haas families present. The account of Andy Haas follows:

“Our presentation ceremony was held at Wayne (Andy’s son) and Linda’s home. Andy and his wife Lillian were invited to what they thought was going to be a family reunion of sorts of their immediate family. I started by reminding everyone that Kim, Andy’s granddaughter, had found the 300th Engineer website by accident while doing a Google search of her grandfather’s name. I then told the story of LST 523 from the details on the website, including the information in his Affidavit.

“As I told the story, he was stunned. His facial expressions changed from periodic shock to some tears and back. No one was sure how he would react since he never talks about his war experiences.  After he heard the story – and then saw the framed display with his picture - you could tell he was proud – a real sense of pride! - of his recognition on Veterans Day. When he went back to the retirement community, he was walking a little taller, chest out, and obviously happy. He and Lillian took what was left of the cake back to their home and he told people he knew that they ran into along the way that the cake was from a Veterans Day party in his honor!

“The display was presented by our sons, Mike and Greg. I told the assembled group that the framed display was given from the Haas Family to the Grinnik Family in hopes that it would be passed from generation to generation so that Andy’s sacrifice for our country would never be forgotten. The sacrifice that all veteran’s have and continue to make should never be forgotten or taken for granted.

“Thank you to the 300th Battalion for taking the time and resources to create and maintain this website to chronicle some of the acts and experiences of the men of the 300th from our Country’s ‘Greatest Generation’!!”

Jack Burk Recognized

Jack Burk was the Guest of Honor for the Veterans Day Celebration at the Clyde W. Casper Texas State Veterans Home in Bonham, Texas. Jack has been a resident there in his home town of Bonham for several months. The Veterans Home newsletter reported as follows:

“Lifelong Bonham resident, Lewen “Jack” Burk survived the war but was injured blowing up a bridge during the Battle of the Bulge. On Friday, residents and staff honored Burk—the only Purple Heart recipient who resides at the home — in a Veterans Day ceremony. Despite losing part of his foot, Burk’s injuries didn’t earn him the Purple Heart until former U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, who was also from Bonham, intervened.”

Jack’s wife, Lavonia, wrote us recently saying, “Nothing has stopped his eating, he still does that real good. He has good days and some bad but at the time he is doing real good.”

Jack’s own comments about the ceremony were: “It is an honor to be recognized and all servicemen should be recognized for their sacrifices. Regardless whether they were sweeping floors or out there guarding our country, I think a lot of all of our veterans.”

In a later interview remembering Pearl Harbor, Jack said, “I wanted to go when I was 17 but I couldn’t so I enlisted as soon as I turned 18. The first thing we (the 300th) did was lay a minefield for the 101st Airborne. Everything was going pretty good until December 19th.” That is when Jack was wounded. He added, “I’d do the same thing I did the first time I went in if they wanted me to.”

New Website Contact

Recently, the web site was contacted by the family of Joe Sanford Good who passed in November. They asked that his photo be added to the web site which has already been done in the Men of the 300th. The family provided a photo as well as other photos and documents including cards and letters which will be added to the web site or will provide information for the web site. Joe was in B Company. If anyone has recollections of him they wish to share, please forward to Brad and Jan at the below address or e-mail and they will forward them to the family.