2017-05-19 / Community

Gone… But Not Forgotten

By Robby Schwach


The Doughboy Monument on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the Beach 94/95 Street plaza was part of a nationwide movement to honor those soldiers who died in World War I. It was officially dedicated with a great parade on Nov. 12, 1927. 
Photo By Mark C. Healey The Doughboy Monument on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the Beach 94/95 Street plaza was part of a nationwide movement to honor those soldiers who died in World War I. It was officially dedicated with a great parade on Nov. 12, 1927. Photo By Mark C. Healey The annual Memorial Day Parade down Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Rockaway Park draws several hundred locals, all of whom take some time out from their barbeques, beach time, or chasing sales to honor the men and women who died while in service to our country.

At last year’s event, the roll call of names of the men listed at Memorial Circle were read out loud. But, who were these men? As time progressed, memories have faded, families have moved away, and there is scant information on these soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Attempts to find out more information about whom they were and where they served have yielded some interesting information, and given stories and “life” to the names on bronze plaques.

Members of NYC Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s staff spent some of their spare time researching the names and plan to print a small book of remembrance to distribute this Memorial Day.

The Thursday, June 5, 1947 edition of The Wave heralded the dedication a week earlier of Memorial Circle along Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 120th and Beach 121st streets. That makes this year’s Memorial Day the 70th anniversary of the dedication of Memorial Circle.

“Memorial Trees Formally Dedicated In The West End,” was the headline on the front page.

Members of the Belle Harbor Garden Club planted 33 trees in memory of, and as a tribute to, the young men from the west end of the peninsula who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. Stones listing the names of the fallen heroes and their service branch and date of death were placed near the memorial trees.

Eventually, two additional trees were planted, one each for west end residents who gave their lives in Vietnam and Iraq. Here are some of their stories:

Francis Thomas Acton lived for a time on Sea Breeze Avenue in Roxbury. He was a member of the United States Navy and originally served on the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington (CV-2). He was transferred in 1942 not long before it was sunk in the Battle of Coral Sea. His new assignment was aboard the light aircraft carrier USS Belleau Wood (CV-24). On Oct. 30, 1944, the ship was patrolling not far from Leyte Gulf, just days after famous sea battle there, when the ship was threatened by a Japanese Navy kamikaze attack. The Japanese plane was engaged by Belleau Wood gunners who hit the aircraft but it crashed into the ship’s flight deck, killing 92 sailors including Seaman 2nd class Francis T. Acton. He was buried at sea, and his name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American cemetery in the Philippines.

Arthur Alford Amron was a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Army Air Force. He lived at different times at 123-10 Ocean Promenade and 217 Beach 119th St. in Rockaway Park. He graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1940 and went to Michigan State. Before his military service, he had been an administrator at the Hotel New Yorker in Manhattan and was a member of Congregation Ohab Zedek in Belle Harbor. In early 1941, before the U.S. was involved in World War II, he was stationed in the Philippines as part of the 48th Materiel Squadron. He was assigned to an Army Air Force Pursuit Squadron just before Japan invaded the Philippines in late 1941. He led a group of 20 on a mission to eliminate a Japanese artillery position in a church tower in Balanga when he was killed. He was listed as Missing in Action and left behind his parents, Rose and Samuel, and a younger brother, Howard. He was, according to The Wave, “the first beach boy to lose his life in World War II.” The date on his memorial stone in Memorial Circle is June 10, 1943, but he was killed in February of 1942 according to Navy sources and that corresponds to the date for the battle in Battan/Salanga on which he was killed.

Cornelius Martin Calpin was a seaman, 2nd class, part of the U.S. Navy Armed Guard. This branch of the Navy provided armed guards for merchant ships carrying supplies and munitions on private vessels. He lived and worked as a chauffeur in Yonkers before the war. His mother, Elanor Masson lived at 515 Beach 129th St. in Belle Harbor. One of his first assignments was aboard the SS Louise Lykes, a merchant ship used in the war effort. The ship left New Orleans with a shipload for munitions bound for Belfast, Ireland. The ship stopped in New York on the way. On Jan. 9, 1943 the Lykes was sunk with all hands after a torpedo attack by German submarine U- 384 southeast of Iceland. One hundred officers, 41 crew members and 31 other members of the Navy Armed Guard were killed. He is listed as Missing in Action.

John E. Corrigan was an Army private, 1st class. He lived for a time at 435 Beach 135th St. in Belle Harbor with his wife Josephine (nee O’- Connell). He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School and started law school while working for Sperry Gyroscope when the war started. His father, Dennis was a law clerk in Brooklyn. His wife was a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School. He was killed in action in the Battle of Anzio, Italy in January of 1944. In addition to his father and wife, he left behind his mother, Margaret, and four siblings.

Richard H. Davis was a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force. He lived with his parents at 156 Beach 134th St. in Belle Harbor. Davis was a graduate of P.S. 114 and a 1942 graduate of Far Rockaway High School. He was a member of local Boy Scout Troop 112 and a member of Temple Beth-El, the synagogue across the street from what became Memorial Circle. He was only 20 years old and a navigator on a B24 Liberator Bomber, when, on his 11th mission, a run over Leverkasen Chemical Works in Germany, the plane collided in midair with another B24. He and all nine others in his plane were killed. He left behind his parents and a younger sister, Susan.

Henry John Dehnert was a private 1st Class in the United States Army. He went to P.S. 43 and Far Rockaway High School, where he played basketball and swam for the Seahorses. He lived at 116-09 Beach Channel Dr. At 19 years old, he enlisted at Camp Upton in Yaphank, Long Island after attending Columbia University. After spending a short time in the Navy, he wound up in the Army and was assigned to the 102nd Infantry Division of the 9th Army in Germany. Shortly before being killed, he wrote to his family, “Life is just one foxhole after another.” His father, “Dutch” Dehnert was one of the original Boston Celtics and is credited with inventing the “pivot play” in professional basketball. He left behind his parents, Henry and Anna, and two sisters. The date on his memorial stone in Memorial Circle lists 10-11-44 as his date of death but he was killed in February of 1945 according to war record, and accounts in The Wave.

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The coalition of rockaways

The coalition of rockaways Bruce jacobs worders why doesnt the parade go through farrockaway my neighborhood of color has more veteran per capital in all of rockaways Im a veteran and was at 911 Im a member of American legion272 am I invited

The coalition of rockaways

The coalition of rockaways Bruce jacobs worders why doesnt the parade go through farrockaway my neighborhood of color has more veteran per capital in all of rockaways Im a veteran and was at 911 Im a member of American legion272 am I invited


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