Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Iwo Jima and Greek Independence Day

Seventy years ago this month the United States captured a tiny volcanic island off the coast of Japan. The Japanese had three airfields on the island. The battle for Iwo Jima began on February 19, 1945 and ended March 26, 1945.
Courtesy photo: National Archives taken February 23, 1945 
by Joe Rosenthal atop Mount Suribachi

The United States Navy and Marine Corps lost over 7,000 men. The greater Lowell area  lost men during this two month battle as well.

March 25th is an important day for the Greek community remembering Greek Independence Day.  The Greek community in Lowell is an important part of Lowell's history and culture. The Greeks left Greece to come to America to seek a better life and many of the them ended up in Lowell. Peter and Catherine (Ivos) Scondras came to Lowell and started a family. They had six sons of which four served during World War II. Two sons were killed in action. David was killed in action in Europe and James was killed in action on Iwo Jima on February  25, 1945 two days after the flag raising.

Lieut. James P. Scondras, USMC also known as "Jimmy and the Big Chief" was a graduate of the Bartlett and Lowell High School class of 1938. He was one of the best athletes to come out of Lowell High. Before he enlisted in the Marines he was an outstanding baseball player at Holy Cross College. Had he survived the war he was good enough to turn pro. He was awarded the Silver Star for actions a few days prior to his death.  His body  was returned to Lowell in 1949 along with his brother David killed in action in France and his cousin Sgt. Costos Ivos, shot down over Germany,  where an impressive funeral was held and burial at Westlawn Cemetery.

The gymnasium at the Rogers School on Highland Street is named in honor of Lieut. James P. Scondras. 

Please remember the Scondras and Ivos family and their contributions to the Lowell community.

More to come tomorrow on the other greater Lowell heroes who died on Iwo Jima.

Friday, March 6, 2015

John Scott Keenan - KIA Vietnam

Warrant Officer John Scott Keenan
November 17, 1948 - April 22, 1970

Grew up in the Highlands on Viola Street with his grandparents, Irene & William Scott. Graduated from Lowell High School Class of 1966. Married to Anne Kelley Keenan of Bedford, NH with two children Kelley and John Scott. After six weeks in Vietnam he was killed. He was a helicopter pilot. The intersection across from the 99 on Chelmsford Street is named in his honor. He is buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Section I Lot 213.

Please remember W.O. John Keenan when you drive onto Stevens Street. Thank you sir for your service and your family has missed you I'm sure all this time. I've taken this turn so many times but I'll never take it the same again. Thank you for your service and God bless.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Dallaire Family - Heartbreaking Sacrifice

The Dallaire family of Lowell had five brothers serving in World War II. Their parents Peter and Anna (O'Donnnell) Dallaire were deceased but there were two sisters Monala and Anna living in Lowell. The family was raised on 126 West 6th Street in Centralville. The dad was the local barber.
Photo credit -

During the second world war everyone was all in. Many families had many members in the service. For the Dallaires it was Victor in the Marines, Clement in the Coast Guard, Arthur in the Army, Wilbert in the Navy and Albert in the Army Air Forces.

Arthur was a private in the US Army 18th Infantry Regiment. He was killed in action January 12, 1943 in Tunisia.

Albert was a staff sergeant in the Army Air Forces 379th Bomber Squadron. He was a holder of the Silver Star for shooting down a Japanese transport. He was killed in action over Italy on August 27, 1943. He enlisted in New York.

Wilbert was an Ensign the US Navy for over sixteen years. He was Chief Signalman on the submarine, USS Grayling which went missing near the Philippines September 9, 1943. He is credited to California.

Victor Dallaire was given an honorable discharge and sent home. Clement was stationed with the Coast Guard in Maine. Five brothers serving the United States of America, three killed in action and two made it home.

During WWII, the USS Junea was struck by a Japanese torpedo and all five Sullivan brothers were killed. This is the true story behind the movie "Saving Private Ryan". Soon after the war the United States developed the Sole Survivor Policy to try to prevent a family from losing all their sons or daughters in war. The Dallaire family came pretty close.

Albert and Arthur Dallaire are buried the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Netuttuno, Italy. Wilfred is with his mates in the submarine USS Grayling somewhere near the Philippines. He is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery.

This Lowell family made a huge sacrifice for us. We thank them and we remember them.

After the war Wilbert's widow and 2 year old son located back to Massachusetts. Sadly, they both died in a carbon monoxide poisoning accident ten years later. They are buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A forgotten Lowell sailor still resting in Pearl Harbor - John T. Targ

Back in December I started research for a Pearl Harbor story and I found another forgotten Lowell connection.

Courtesy: Boston Globe Photos - Boston Public Library - WW1 Yankee Division

John T. Targ was born in Lowell, MA to Jedag and Marja Targ immigrants from Poland. He had a twin sister Katazyna later called Mrs. Kay Griffin; siblings Stanley, Vodda, Anna and Tadenz (Theodore). They lived in various addresses in the Centralville section of Lowell. I found the above picture of him but no record of his military service with the Yankee Division during the World War One. I'll have to do more research on that.

He married Sophie Cielsa and they had a daughter Jacqueline who died shortly after birth and his wife died within the month in 1930. He was in the US Navy and his wife was living with his mother. At some point he moved to California and was in the US Navy Reserves. He remarried Grace Ann and they lived in San Diego where he was a salesman in a music store in 1940. As a member of the reserves he would have been one of the first to be called.

He was a Navy Chief Petty Officer serving on the USS Arizonia on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was listed as a Chief Watertender which meant that he was working on the boiler of the USS Arizona and where he rests today. Although born in Lowell his service was credited to California. The last mention I have of him in Lowell is in 1971 for the 30th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. We must not forget this Lowell native who gave all on the first day of war for America in WWII.

His mother was noted in Lowell as the first Polish Gold Star Mother and participated with the other Gold Star Mothers. She was a faithful member of St. Casimir's Parish until her death. His second wife, Grace Ann Targ died in 1973 in California.

We will not forget John T. Targ native of Lowell, Massachusetts. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pawtucketville War Memorial

Ground was broken on November 11, 1927 for the Pawtucketville War Memorial in memory of the seventeen men who died during World War One. The Gold Star Mother's of the district had the honor of breaking ground. The memorial was located on the riverbank of Riverside Street.

On December 11, 1927 the cornerstone was laid and a time capsule was sealed in a copper box in the cornerstone. Items included:
  • History of Pawtucketville by Joseph M. Wilson
  • History of Dracut by Silas Coburn
  • History of the fundraising for the memorial with contributor's names
  • Photo of the memorial
  • Photo of Durkee house
  • Collection of war period fundraising buttons
  • War souvenirs from battlefields in France by Lt. Rasuez
  • Souvenir medal commemorating Col. Lindberg's non-stop flight across Atlantic
  • Copies of Courier-Citizen and Lowell Sun showing ground breaking
  • Soil and stone from French ceremony given by Gold Star Mother Mrs. E.J. McCarthy

On May 31, 1928 the impressive monument was dedicated. Medal of Honor recipient, George Charette and ten surviving members from the G.A.R. posts in Lowell including Chief Marshall Dudley L. Page and 6,000 residents attended the dedication.

A bronze tablet at the center of the monument listed the seventeen men: Wilfred Taylor Axon, Phillip Chalifoux, Henry J. Cognac, Omer Deziel, George H. Gravelle, Joseph Hebert, Ernest B. Hoyle, Arthur J. Lejeunnesse, Bartholomew Lamarre, Ralph H. Lashua, Leo H. MacDonald, Joseph N. Nichols, Joseph Paquin, James Douglas Rivet, Alfred G. Salvas, Ralph W. Tewksbury, Daniel Tully

Sadly the Flood of 1936 damaged the monument and it had to be moved. There was a lot of controversy as to where it should go. On November 11, 1940 it was moved to the Riverside Street side of the School Street bridge.

Again the monument had to be moved when the V.F.W Parkway was built. The state was responsible for moving it and damaged it. They paid $3,000 to replace it with the marker that is now on the Varnum Avenue side of the School Street bridge. The City of Lowell appropriated $500 for the inscription. This monument was dedicated May 30, 1951.  Since we were involved in the Korean Conflict at the time and World War II had recently ended, this memorial is for all who gave their lives during wartime from Pawtucketville. They paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Thank you.

Can't help but wonder what happened to the old cornerstone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Captain America Walton

Usually when I research a story I find another. While researching Captain Kittredge who was killed in action during the Great War, I learned he had a grandfather who served in Civil War. His name was America Walton.

America Walton was born in Franklin Plantation, Maine in August of 1835. His family moved to Peru, Maine when he was nine and then on to Lowell by himself in 1856. He worked at the Lowell Bleachery and joined the Company B of the City Guards. He must of resigned from the 6th Massachusetts because he is not listed on the roster in 1861 and in May of 1861 he went to Patten Maine where he joined the 8th Maine Company B Infantry. In 1863 while on furlough he married Sophronia Dow.

Courtesy photo - Maine Archives

He was involved in several battles and was shot twice. He was at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865. He was promoted often and ended up a Captain in 1865.

After the war he was an active member of G.A.R Post #120 (James A. Garfield). At a meeting celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox he was the only living person in Lowell who had witnessed the surrender.

Unfortunately, he lived long enough to see his grandson, Captain Paul E. Kittredge killed in action in World War One.

He died in Lowell March 15, 1919 and is buried in Edson Cemetery. Our own Captain America.

Update: Thanks to Walter Hickey, Historian Extraordinaire we have confirmation that America Walton was a member of the Massachusetts 6th Company D from 1857-1859.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Captain Paul E. Kittredge

Paul Edward Kittredge was born December 31, 1890 in Newton, MA to Edward and Mary E. (Walton) Kittredge. The family moved to Lowell soon after having family here. Paul joined the National Guard, the 101st Infantry 26th Yankee Division. He married Sarah R. Hemmersley of Lowell, on September 30, 1914 at the Immaculate Conception Church. They had a daughter Marion Louise born May 27, 1915 and they lived at 95 Andover Street.

Paul was called up for the Mexican trouble and was in charge of recruiting more soldiers in Lowell in 1916. His occupation is listed as Special Policeman. Two days after being promoted to Captain he was killed by a mortar shell on October 23, 1918. He received the Croix de Guerre for conspicuous bravery by the French government. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.

Courtesy: Find a Grave

Washington Square at the intersection of Nesmith and Andover streets was renamed Kittredge Park in his honor. His mother sailed to France May 17, 1932 as part of the Gold Star Mother's Pilgrimage tour that was sponsored by the US Government. His wife remarried after the war to Howard Cameron and she died in Norwood in 1965.

He never came home. We thank him and his family for his sacrifice. Think of him when you drive by Kittredge Park.

In researching Captain Kittredge I found the story of his grandfather Captain America Walton. Isn't that a great name? Blog post about him tomorrow on Veteran's Day.