Our Fifteen Military Casualties

 

St. Benedict Cemetery, Carrolltown, Pa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a school social studies assignment a few years ago, my daughter Sophie had to call my Mom in Cambria County and ask about her favorite childhood memory. Without hesitation, Mom told her it was the Memorial Day parade in Carrolltown, Pa. Our family albums have several pictures of those parades, as we waved miniature flags in our little boy sailor suits. Carrolltown is unquestionably the Farabaugh ancestral home in the U.S., and the entire town turned out for those parades.

We have scores of relatives who served our country all over the world. Because Memorial Day is set aside to honor the fallen, I collected those in the Farabaugh bloodline who lost their lives during wartime. There are just fifteen, but if I’ve omitted someone please let me know.

1. Bernhard Farabaugh

Bernhard Farabaugh Tombstone
The Civil War service of Bernhard Fehrenbacher / Farabaugh (1835-1862) was very hard to understand because of a lot of misinformation in the Samuel Bates’ History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers and some confusing census records. It all cleared up when I pulled the file at the National Archives. Bernhard, sometimes known as Bernard or Barnard, was a Private in Company A of the 40th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, 11th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves. He was mustered in for a three year term on June 25, 1861. The regiment was furnished and drilled at Camp Wright in Pittsburgh, and then marched to Harrisburg, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. It was assigned to General Meade’s 2nd Brigade of the Reserve Corps., and numbered 900 strong. It was ordered north to Great Falls, Md., in September of 1861, when the soldiers first saw action in a skirmish near the Potomac. The 2nd Brigade was held in reserve during the Union’s victory at the Battle of Dranesville, in December of that year. On March 10, 1862, the regiment advanced to Georgetown and Leesburg pike, and then camped in the rain at Hunter’s Mills. They then proceeded to Alexandria under a cold rain in what was the most difficult march the regiment was to encounter. They camped at Fairfax Seminary where many fell ill, and Major Litzinger’s health forced his resignation from service on April 1. It was here that Bernhard died in the Alexandria Hospital of typhoid fever on April 6, 1862.  The condition is a bacterial infection caused by poor separation of food and drinking water from human waste. Over 27,000 Union soldiers died of typhoid fever.

2. Walter Dominic Farabaugh

Walter D. Farabaugh (1893-1918)

Walter D. Farabaugh (1893-1918)

The remains of Walter D. Farabaugh were the subject of the essay, Spooky Farabaugh Mystery No. 4, Whither Walter? He was raised in Carroll Township, Cambria County, Pa., and died in WW I. He was a corporal in Company H, 16th Infantry, First Division. Walter enlisted in May of 1918, arrived in France on July 30th, and was mustard gassed at Julvecourt, France, during the Battle of the Argonne Forest. He died the next day of pneumonia. Walter was buried in a temporary grave in France and his remains were removed and reinterred at St. Benedict’s Church in Carrolltown in 1921. Since I cannot find proof of any field gas deployment during the battle phase involved, some more research is needed to verify his fate.

 

 

3. Marcellus James Sutton

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Another Army soldier of WWI, Marcellus James Sutton (1897-1918), did not actually fight overseas. He reported for duty and was assigned to Camp Greenleaf, Ga., where he contracted broncho pneumonia. He died three weeks later in the medical camp facility at Ft. Oglethorpe. He is buried in my hometown of Loretto, Pa.

 

 

4. Jerome William Farabaugh

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Jerome W. Farabaugh (1918-1944) served in the Army Air Force, with the 15th Airdrome Squadron in the Pacific Theater. As I understand it, these squadrons played in important role in building structures for airfields at strategic locations in the South Pacific after they were cleared. Jerome was likely assigned to this duty because his enlistment record shows he was “semi-skilled in electroplating, galvanizing and related processes.” This particular unit was active in the Admiralty Islands. Jerome died in a non-battle incident at his base. He “was fatally wounded when an explosive he was handling exploded.”

5. Herman J. Dinehart.

Herman J. Dinehart Tombstone

I never saw a headstone marked “cenotaph” before. It is a memorial that does not include the remains of the deceased. This one is in St. Lawrence, Pa. Herman Dinehart (1922-1944) also has a memorial marker at the Arlington National Cemetery. But the interesting thing is that there is yet a third marker at the Sicily-Rome Memorial Cemetery in Lazio, Italy. It is possible that remains were located and interred there after the cemetery was dedicated in 1956; they have “rosettes”  there for that purpose. The circumstances of Herman’s fatality aren’t known. If the death date represents when he became missing in action, it falls near the end of the advance up the Italian peninsula. In September of 1944, the Allies were fighting to penetrate the so-called Gothic Line in the north Apennine Mountains.

6. Leonard Gerald Sharbaugh

leonard-sharbaugh-tombstone-2Leonard Sharbaugh (1924-1944) died at WWII’s Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and has memorial markers there and the one shown in Altoona, Pa. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf and had wartime assignments to the tank destroyer division at Camp Hood, Tx., attended radio school and then transferred to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at Louisiana State University. He however ended up in the infantry and apparently died as a foot soldier.

7. Frank Gilbert

Frank Gilbert Tombstone

Frank Gilbert (1925-1944) also died at the Battle of the Bulge. He enlisted in the Army on December 3, 1943. He trained at Ft. Knox, Ky., and at Camp George G. Meade, Md., before joining the 4th Armored Division, Company B, of the 35th Tank Battalion. He went overseas on May 15, 1944, and was killed in action on December 28, in Belgium. Frank was burned to death in his tank. He was only 19 years old.

 

 

8. James Knopp

James Knopp Tombstone
James R. Knopp Jr. (?-1945) was the third relative killed at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. This is his marker at the Rue du Mémorial Américain there. James was a Corporal in the 509th Parachute Inf. Batallion.

 

 

 

 

9. Charles Barry

Charles Barry (1922-1945) was a WWII casualty following the twelve minute sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CL-35), torpedoed by a Japanese submarine between Guam and the Philippines, on June 30, 1945. It was the greatest loss of life for a single ship in the history of the U.S. Navy. Of the 1,196 crewmen, only 317 survived. It is believed that those victims who escaped from the immediate sinking died of exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning and shark attacks (the latter of which is famously recounted in the movie Jaws). Charles, a lieutenant, was not recovered and his name is inscribed in the ship’s monument in Indianapolis, Ind.

10. Joey Bishop

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Joey Bishop (1933-1951) is the youngest casualty – just 17 years old. In the Korean War, you could volunteer at that age with parental consent. He was a Private E-2 in the 1st Calvary Division Infantry which went straight to the front lines of the conflict. Joey died as a result of a missile wound received in action on January 26, 1951. It was the second day of Operation Thunderbolt, a U.S.-led offensive that successfully forced Chinese forces to retreat to the Han River in South Korea.

11. Charles Kohl Farabaugh

Charles Kohl FarabaughCharles K. Farabaugh (1929-1952) attended West Point. Our family had his distinctive wool uniform, which hung on a hanger in full view as I would chart the Farabaugh family as a teenager. Despite a close relationship between my parents and his, we didn’t know the specifics of Charles’ death during the Korean War. His story eluded me for years. There was some talk that he sacrificed his life in some dramatic way, like falling on a grenade. I only recently discovered the official account online: “The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to First Lieutenant Charles K. Farabaugh, Infantry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving as a member of an infantry company on July 17, 1952 in the vicinity of Haduch’on, Korea. Lieutenant Farabaugh led a combat patrol deep into enemy-held territory for the purpose of locating and probing hostile troops. The patrol was surprised by a numerically superior enemy force and a fierce fire-fight ensued. During the battle, Lieutenant Farabaugh observed an element of the enemy force moving slowly to the left of the patrol’s position in a flanking maneuver. After carefully estimating the situation, Lieutenant Farabaugh ordered the patrol to withdraw. He then moved from his protective cover through the intense enemy fire to a position from which he could cover the threatened flank. With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Farabaugh laid down such a withering hail of fire that the hostile forces were repelled. While he was covering the withdrawal of his patrol through the cleared sector, Lieutenant Farabaugh was mortally wounded.” Charles was brought home and buried in Carrolltown.

12. Myron Aloysius Farabaugh

myron-farabaugh

Myron Aloysius Farabaugh (1929-1957) died near Nienburg-Weiser, Germany six days before his discharge from service. He was a passenger in a vehicle that was hit head on by a German truck. His widow Rita, in Cambria County, Pa., survived him by 58 years, succumbing in 2015. Myron was fond of German clocks and sent several home from overseas, which are still in use among family members.

 

13. Stanley A. Stys.

Stanley Stys 2

Pfc. Stanley A. Stys (1949-1968) was an infantryman in the 173rd Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He was killed by small-arms fire in the Thua Thien Province of South Vietnam. He is buried at Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown, Pa. I have been unable to figure out the identity of his father, to complete his family record.

 

 

 

14. Robert Stolz (1939-68).

Robert S. Stolz Tombstone
According to a 1988 newspaper article that profiled his parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, Robert Stephen Stolz (1939-1968) was a pilot and lieutenant in the U. S. Navy, missing in action after his plane was shot down in the Vietnam War on April 5, 1968. However, oddly enough, he’s not on the Vietnam Wall. He’s also not listed at the National Archives site. On the other hand, the Navy’s burial record references a death report and approved a cenotaph for St. Benedict’s Cemetery in Carrolltown. Whatever the unusual circumstances involved, it appears that Robert’s remains were never recovered, and that the headstone shown here is a memorial marker. He left behind a wife and three children.

15. Col. Herbert O. Brennan (1926-1967, MIA).

Col. Herbert “Bert” Brennan graduated from West Point in 1947 and became an Air Force pilot, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving with the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron during the Korean War. He volunteered as a fighter pilot for the Vietnam War. On November 26, 1967, he was the bombardier on a F-4C, with Maj. Douglas C. Condit as pilot. The plane departed from Da Nang Airfield and was downed during its first pass in the vicinity of the Ban Karai Pass in a remote region of the Quang Binh Province of North Vietnam. It was downed either because of hostile fire (an unlucky “golden BB”), or a faulty bomb detonation fuse.
The wingman reported that the plane was seen to burst into flames, without any parachutes seen through the resulting thick smoke. No voice contact was made with the crew, although both of the plane’s beepers were detected, one of which continued over a two hour period, subsequent flybys to search and rescue met hostile file and were unsuccessful. Brennan and Condit were declared MIA and assigned to case 0928. Brennan was redesignated as Died While Missing, on October 18, 1974, and was included on the Vietnam Wall. The case was actively pursued for both airmen. In 1988, an F-4 crash site was found but could not be positively identified as the site of the Brennan/Condit plane.
In 1992, the investigation took a dramatic turn following the Vietnamese government’s release of the “Journal of AntiAircraft Combat; Military Region 4; From 1964-1973.” The 84 page report indicated that a diving aircraft on the correlating date was downed with one killed and one captured. A 16 member excavation team was deployed to the area. During a site inspection an unspecified “witness” miraculously produced an identification tag and led the team to a steep slope adjacent to a riverbed, where human remains were found. The remains were recovered along with several items that included survival kit components and evidence of a deployed parachute. These were the remains of Condit, which were repatriated in June of that year. Efforts continued to locate Brennan and the plane. In June of 1993, another F-4 crash site was found in the province at coordinates 48QXE2944521051, and this time there was positive identification when the aircraft data plate found was a match with the number one engine of the Brennan/Condit plane.
With both the plane and the Condit remains found, efforts continued to find Brennan. In 2000, an investigation team returned to the area of the 1993 discovery, but a broader search yielded no significant findings and no re-excavation was recommended. Various interviews were conducted of Vietnamese officials and former officers in 2005 and 2008, but these did not yield any additional leads. No new details have since emerged over the fate of Col. Herbert Brennan.

 

The history of these soldiers is often forgotten due to passage of time. Memorial Day is meant to revive the sacrifices of these brave relatives, and remind us of the importance of patriotism and the freedoms that are all too often taken for granted. Our family has a contribution from Kane Farabaugh. Kane is a veteran who recently produced a documentary profiling a WWII soldier, The Greatest Honor. It’s good to know that one of our own maintains an active interest in, and has worked to preserve, our military history.

3 thoughts on “Our Fifteen Military Casualties

  1. Clare Ann Farabaugh

    I went to school at St Benedicts in Geistown, Pa for 8 years. he and his family lived on Walters Avenue by the ArmoryRichland twp, Johnstown Pa 15904. in . I do not know if his mom is still living or not…he might have been an only child. I do know he died in Viet Nam. I will have to look into it and let you know.

    Reply

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