Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (Part 2): And the Prisoners Of War Who Never Went Home


Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. WWII Prisoner of War burials Section ZA.  Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.


They may be far from their homeland but have not been forgotten.


After WWII when Prisoner of War (POW) camps closed in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, the POWs who died in captivity were reinterred at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. One hundred thirty-two Germans, five Italians, three Japanese, and one Austrian are buried there. If the families of the deceased POWs survived the war and could be located, they would have been given the opportunity to repatriate the remains back to their home country.

Story One. Johnny Barrientez, Lead Cemetery Representative at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, has worked there for 38 years. About 25 years ago (early 1990s) he noticed a gentleman in the POW section and walked over to see if he could be of assistance. The gentleman, a German, had travelled from Germany to Texas to visit his brother’s grave. He knew his brother had been a POW and buried in the United States (US), but it had taken him some time to locate his resting place. The German talked about his brother and showed Johnny pictures of himself and his brother in their German uniforms. Another cemetery employee, an American WWII veteran, also walked over, and the two men exchanged thoughts about the war and fighting for their countries. In the end, after seeing the cemetery and the care given to all the graves there, the German man decided he would leave his brother buried in the US.

Story Two. Corporal Hugo Krauss was born in Germany in 1920. Hugo, his mother, and sister joined his father, Heinrich, in New York City, New York, in 1929. Heinrich had immigrated to the US in 1928. In 1939 Hugo travelled back to Germany to visit relatives and was there when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Trapped in Germany, at some point Hugo became a member of the German Army (Wehrmacht). He was captured during the North African Campaign and was sent to a POW camp (Camp Hearne) in Texas. With his fluency in English and German he became an interpreter. As the story is told, some of his fellow German prisoners thought he had become too friendly with the Americans. On the evening of December 17, 1943, he was severely beaten by Nazi POWs and died on December 23, 1943.


While visiting Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery I found three pennies and a dime on the tombstone of Hugo Krauss. According to some military traditions leaving coins can be a symbol of remembrance of the person. A penny signifies that a grave had been visited. A dime signifies that the visitor had served with the deceased in some capacity.  Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.


An Italian grave.  Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.


A Japanese grave.  Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.


Two of the German tombstones depict the person had been awarded the Iron Cross. The legend at the bottom of the tombstone translates to: “He died far (from) Home for Leader, People, and Fatherland.” Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.




Story One as told to me by Johnny Barrientez.  I want to thank him for his help in the research for this story.

Thank you to G. L. Lamborn for assistance in the German translation on the tombstone.


Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (Part 1): And A U.S. Marine’s Long Journey Home


Burials at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, began in 1926. The cemetery encompasses 154.7 acres with over 150,000 burials.  Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.


SSgt William J Bordelon 12980_jpg[1]
Staff Sergeant William James Bordelon, United States Marine Corps, WWII. Hometown: San Antonio, Texas.  Photograph


December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested from the United States Congress and received a declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941.

December 10, 1941, a young man named William James Bordelon from San Antonio, Texas, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  A graduate of Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, he and two other graduates of the high school would lose their lives in the Pacific Ocean on an atoll known as Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands during the 76 hour Battle of Tarawa which took place from November 20 – 23, 1943. 

On November 20, 1943, Staff Sergeant (S/Sgt) Bordelon was aboard the United States Ship Zeilin awaiting the order to begin the assault on Tarawa. The assault began just after 5 am.  The Japanese had occupied Tarawa Atoll since 1941.  It was heavily defended and fortified with pillboxes, bunkers, and barbed wire.  Ocean tides and a coral reef caused extreme difficulties during the landings.  

For his action during the Battle of Tawara, S/Sgt. Bordelon was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. 


For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as a member of an assault engineer platoon of the 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, tactically attached to the 2d Marine Division, in action against the Japanese-held atoll of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands on 20 November 1943. Landing in the assault waves under withering enemy fire which killed all but 4 of the men in his tractor, S/Sgt. Bordelon hurriedly made demolition charges and personally put 2 pillboxes out of action. Hit by enemy machinegun fire just as a charge exploded in his hand while assaulting a third position, he courageously remained in action and, although out of demolition, provided himself with a rifle and furnished fire coverage for a group of men scaling the seawall. Disregarding his own serious condition, he unhesitatingly went to the aid of one of his demolition men, wounded and calling for help in the water, rescuing this man and another who had been hit by enemy fire while attempting to make the rescue. Still refusing first aid for himself, he again made up demolition charges and single-handedly assaulted a fourth Japanese machine gun position but was instantly killed when caught in a final burst of fire from the enemy. S/Sgt. Bordelon’s great personal valor during a critical phase of securing the limited beachhead was a contributing factor in the ultimate occupation of the island, and his heroic determination throughout 3 days of violent battle reflects the highest credit upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

S/Sgt. Bordelon was initially buried in Lone Palm Cemetery on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll.  After WWII ended his remains were moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.  In 1995, 52 years after his death on Tarawa, at the request of his family he was returned to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.  

Prior to his burial at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, S/Sgt. Bordelon received an honor granted to only four people before him.  He laid in state inside the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas. 


Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas.  Photograph S.R. O’Konski Collection.



Gene Seng, Jr. and Charles Montague were the two other graduates of San Antonio, Texas, Central Catholic High School to lose their lives during the Battle of Tarawa.

Four Congressional Medals of Honor (MOH) were awarded for the Battle of Tarawa.  In addition to S/Sgt. Bordelon, First Lieutenant Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman, Jr. and First Lieutenant William Dean Hawkins were posthumous recipients of the MOH.  Colonel David Monroe Shoup survived the Battle of Tarawa and was also awarded the MOH.  He later became the 22nd Commandant of the Marine Corps.

The other individuals who have lain in state inside the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas, were MOH recipient (Philippine-American War 1899 – 1902) Major General Frederick Funston, MOH recipient (WWI) Private David B. Barkley, Mrs. Antoinette Powers Houston Bringhurst (daughter of Samuel “Sam” Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas), and Mrs. Clara Driscoll (philanthropist and historic preservationist who provided the money to preserve the Alamo Mission).

Thank you to Leslie Sitz Stapleton, Director, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo.


The Fathers Who Never Came Home: And the American WWII Orphans Network

John Charles Eisenhauer, WWII US Army 9th Infantry Division, 60th Infantry Regiment, K Company.


Some men came home from WWII and had children.  Some men went to war already having children and never came back.


John Charles Eisenhauer was born in New York City, New York, on March 23, 1917.  He was a New York Giants baseball fan, collected stamps, was interested in photography, listened to Jack Benny and Bob Hope on the radio, and enjoyed western movies starring Gene Autry and The Lone Ranger.  He and his friends sailed model sailboats on Jackson Pond in Richmond Hill, New York.  John had a Flying Cloud model sailboat he named “Comet.”

John and his cousin were sanding a chair for their grandmother in January 1941 when he heard his draft number called on the radio.  He was inducted into the United States (US) Army 9th Infantry Division (ID), 60th Infantry Regiment, K Company, and was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In the late 1930s John had met Dorothy Krumm, a New York City Flower 5th Avenue Hospital nursing student, on a blind date.  On February 7, 1942, Dorothy and John were married in Dillon, South Carolina.

October 23, 1942, John sailed with the 9th ID from Virginia on the United States Ship Susan B. Anthony.  They landed at Port Lyautey, French Morocco, as part of the WWII North African Campaign Operation Torch which began on November 8, 1942.

November 9, 1942, John’s daughter, Gail, was born.

In May 1943 the 9th ID moved from French Algeria and French Morocco to Tunisia and then to Sicily in July 1943.  John and his unit sailed to England in November 1943 and prepared for the upcoming invasion of Europe.  June 10, 1944, D-Day plus 4, the 9th ID landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, France.

John received a battlefield commission to Second Lieutenant in late June 1944.

The Allied push continued through France, Belgium, and into Germany.

The Battle of Hurtgen Forest (Schlacht im Hurtgenwald in German) was fought from September 1944 to February 1945.  The Hurtgen Forest is approximately 50 square miles in size and east of the Belgium-German border.  The densely wooded area made Allied artillery and air support problematic. It was also heavily fortified by the Germans.  It was the longest battle of WWII fought on German soil. 

During the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, Second Lieutenant John Eisenhauer was mortally wounded on September 27, 1944, when he and his company attempted to capture a German pillbox.

John never met and held his daughter.  His body was not found until 1948.  He is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.

Gail Eisenhauer first visited her father’s grave in 1981. She has returned several times since then.  Her regret …”I wish I had had the privilege of knowing him.  And I wish he had lived long enough to get to know me.”  Gail inherited and treasures “Comet,” her father’s sailboat.


Gail Eisenhauer with Marie, a young Belgian girl, at a Memorial Day ceremony in 2015 at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. Citizens in Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg have “adopted” WWII American graves at American cemeteries in their country.


The American WWII Orphans Network (AWON) was founded in 1991 by Ann Bennett Mix who is herself a WWII orphan.  The government defines “war orphan” as a child who has lost one or both parents in war.  It is estimated that 183,000 American children were left fatherless as a result of WWII.  The organization has assisted the orphaned children and family members by providing support and in locating information about those fathers killed in action or missing in action in WWII.



Story and photographs are published with the permission of Gail Eisenhauer and the Achten family. 

For more information about AWON visit

Yuri Beckers, a 38 year old Dutch man, has created a WWII website with in-depth information about the US Army 9th ID and the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.  See


The Medics: Those Who Took Care of the Wounded and the Dying in WWII

US Army 24th Evacuation Hospital nurses resting after a tent hospital set up.  Photograph courtesy of Josephine Pescatore Reaves. 


WWII medical support units provided a literal lifeline to the casualties of the war. This story is in recognition of all the medics who experienced their own kind of war taking care of the sick, the injured, the wounded, and the dying.


One of the many medical support units in WWII was the United States (US) Army 24th Evacuation Hospital which was activated on June 15, 1942, at Fort Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan. On January 21, 1944, after extensive preparation for overseas movement, the unit sailed on the Queen Mary from New York City, New York, and arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, on January 29, 1944. The evacuation hospital complement was then stationed at Cheddar in Somerset, England, awaiting the invasion of Europe.

The 24th Evacuation Hospital landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 12, 1944, six days after D-Day. The unit followed US military operations through France and then in Leopoldsburg, Belgium, and in Uden and Nijmegen, Holland, it provided medical support for Operation Market Garden in the fall of 1944.

In an oral history interview for the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, in September 2011, 24th Evacuation Hospital nurse Lieutenant Josephine Pescatore Reaves tells the story of two patients in the hospital in Nijmegen, Holland, who were seriously wounded. The two patients, members of the US Army 101st Airborne Division, were John Kubinski from Ohio and Nick Patino from New York. This is the story.



Josephine’s story is representative of the medical units in WWII that were responsible for saving many lives. They also had to deal with the deaths of many young men. During her interview Josephine shared with me, “I shed quite a few tears … when the boys didn’t see me.”  If the families of those lost in WWII had known that their loved ones did not die alone but were in the hands of caring people, it may have offered them some solace in their grief. 



There are two other stories on this website about the US Army 24th Evacuation Hospital and Lieutenant Josephine Pescatore.  The posts are “WWII Camp Shanks, New York: And a Visit by Archbishop Spellman,” story link  and “An Afternoon in Paris after Liberation: And a Letter from a Parisian Lady” link

The photograph in this story is used with the permission of Josephine Pescatore Reaves.  The oral history video is used with the permission of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

A valuable website with extensive information on many of the US medical support units in WWII is the WW2 US Medical Research Centre at

In Memory Of … Sara Elizabeth Clarke Anderson


Sara Elizabeth Clarke Anderson


Sara Elizabeth Clarke Anderson, known to family and friends as Betty, was 22 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.

Betty was working as a photographer’s model for a modeling agency in Chicago, Illinois, and was featured in advertisements for companies such as Sears, Roebuck, and Company and Folgers Coffee. She posed for the cover of several detective magazines of the day and for one cover she told of being photographed in the Chicago River pretending she was about to drown. She was also involved in radio and television broadcast media in Chicago. Betty worked at radio station WAAF which broadcast from the top floor of the Palmer House. On Mondays at 2 pm she had her own radio show and sang songs. Her beauty and talent opened the door for her early television work at Zenith Experimental Studios. She appeared in various television productions.

During WWII new product development was limited, and rationing affected product availability. When the use of advertising and broadcast media temporarily changed its focus during wartime, Betty moved to Arkansas and was employed at the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP) as an Inspector. Her starting salary was 56 cents an hour.

The AOP was located in Jacksonville, Arkansas. In 1942 the contract to build and operate the plant was awarded to Ford, Bacon, and Davis of New York. The plant was one of the first of its kind in the United States (US). It assembled military munitions fuses, boosters, detonators, and primers. The first assembly line was completed in March of 1942 and approximately 75% of the employees were women.

Betty worked in the Percussion Element Division and made relay and delay fuses for bombs. Components of the fuses included the potentially unstable elements of lead azide and mercury fulminate. She told of assembly line workers taking extra precautions as fuses were moved within the AOP as it was thought even human body heat may cause a fuse to explode.

The AOP shut down production in August of 1945 a few weeks after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. WWII was over.

After WWII, those on the Homefront and veterans returning home from the war started a new chapter in their life. Betty married “the love of her life” E. M. (Tex) Anderson and raised six children. She had a lifelong interest in broadcast media. Betty became a television personality for San Antonio, Texas, public television station KLRN and was elected to the Alamo Public Telecommunications Council. 

Betty passed away on January 16, 2016, at the age of 96. Her love for her family and her contribution to her country, her community, and her work in broadcasting will be remembered.



Betty’s son, Jeffrey, found this AOP employee award card among her belongings after her death.

Meritorious Work Award Card and Pin
A Message from US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on back of Meritorious Work Award Card


In  November 2010 I did an oral history interview with Betty for the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. She was representative of the citizens on the Homefront during WWII who wanted to “do their bit” and were themselves sometimes placed in potentially dangerous jobs.

I knew Betty for over 20 years. She was a “classy lady.”  I will miss her friendship. 

Photographs for this story are used with the permission of the Anderson family.


WWII Displaced Persons in Europe: And the German Town of Haren

A Polish servicewoman wearing a German uniform with Polish insignia is checking the identity card of Canadian soldier William Massey near Haren, Germany, in 1945.


Displaced Persons (DP) were defined as people outside the border of their home country when WWII ended. The majority of these people were slave laborers in Germany, had been held in prisoner of war or concentration camps, or had fled their country in fear of prosecution or retribution as post war borders and governments changed after the war. There were an estimated 11 million to 20 million displaced persons when the war ended.

DP camps were intended to be temporary facilities to house, care for, and eventually resettle or repatriate the inhabitants. This was a monumental challenge as many of the DPs were ill, exhausted, and psychologically traumatized by their wartime experiences.

By the end of 1945 DP camps numbered in the hundreds and were located primarily in Germany, Italy, and Austria. Due to the great need for DP camps, one was even established in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Among the different nationalities classified as DPs were over 3,000,000 Polish citizens. In May of 1945 the German town of Haren in Lower Saxony was chosen by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force as an enclave for some 4,000 Poles. It was located in the British Sector under the administration of the Polish 1st Armoured Division of the Polish I Corps. German residents of the town were moved to surrounding communities.

The Poles renamed the town Lwow after a city in Poland that was an important cultural center in that country.  The Soviets objected to the name.  Lwow was in Soviet-occupied Poland at the end of the war.  Under pressure, the Poles then named the city Maczkow after Polish General Stanislaw Maczkow.

Maczkow became a working Polish community with a Polish mayor, school, daily newspapers, a theater and cultural center, fire brigade, and a rectory.  Streets were given Polish names. Four hundred and seventy-six Polish babies were born there and have birth certificates registering Maczkow as their place of birth.

In 1946 the Poles of Maczkow began to emigrate to other countries or return to Poland. Those Poles returning to Poland, especially those who had participated in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 or had been in the Polish Home Army or Polish Resistance, feared possible repression, prosecution, or arrest by the new Polish Soviet-influenced government.  Those fears were realized by some of the Poles returning to their home country.

The town of Maczkow was returned to the Germans in 1948 and renamed Haren.

The last DP camp was closed in the early 1960s.


Thank you to military historian Dr. George H. Kelling for his assistance in the writing of this story.