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* researching my grandfather's ww2 experience from the European Theater of Operations, 324th Infantry, 44th Division 

Colonel Joseph Kirkbride Wright, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 324th Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division.

My grandfather, Joseph K Wright, served our country during WWII. He passed away in 2004 and I sooo regret that I never talked to him about the war. It's too late to hear the stories directly from him, but items he saved and stories he told my dad have helped pass down pieces of his legacy. I don't have many records or documentation from the Army, but I do have pictures, a typed Itinerary of his tour in Europe, and his military decorations.

Joseph was born February 1916 in Camden, NJ to Joseph K Wright and Mary Nolen. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1939 and then in 1943 he was stationed in Olympia, Washington when he married my grandmother Marjorie Middleton. His unit was scheduled for deployment and departed NYC September 4, 1944 on the USS WH Gordon and arrived 11 days later in Cherbourg, France. A typed out itinerary of dates, locations, and details from my grandfather's tour with the 3rd Battalion, 324th Infantry was found amongst the family pictures. I believe this document was typed by Joseph, he LOVED his typewriter. I have compared many of his notes with information provided by other WWII veterans and their family members and it matches up so well! This document has tons of interesting details and has lead to a ton of side research. Which is why this post has taken forever to put together, I keep getting sidetracked with all this crazy information!

Pictures

 

I'm not sure who/where/when the group picture to the upper left was taken, no label! Joseph is not in the picture to the upper right, but the note on the back says "Typical meeting- everybody is mad. Ruette, Austria". According to Joseph's Itinerary, he was in Reutte, Austria around April 30-May 4, 1945.

Joseph's 4 brothers (Thomas, Jack, Vince, & Jerry) also served in the war, making his mother, Mary Nolen Wright, a 5 star mother.

Joseph's oldest brother Thomas is all the way to the left, in the middle his youngest brother Jerry, and younger brother Jack on the right. I am told by my Great Aunt that she remembers someone showing her a newspaper article with a picture of Mary Wright with the Mayor of Camden where he was giving thanks to their family sacrifice. Haven't had any luck finding this article just yet...

 

 Medals and Military Decorations

I just found out this past weekend that my parents have Joseph's WWII medals and ribbon bars. SO HAPPY. I haven't been able to check them out in person just yet, but I can't waiiittt! There is so much information here I will save the bulk of the information for a later post, but I want to share a few goodies that make me so proud.

D. Broze Star (V pin for Valor and Silver Oak Leaf denoting 5 bronze stars- see on matching ribbon bar)

E. Purple Heart - The story as told to me by my dad. "Joseph was sitting on the floor in a house or building with his head in front of a window. He had taken off his helmet and a bullet came through the window and just grazed his head. WOW. What a precious few inches.

F. Silver Star- 3rd highest Military Award that can be given to any branch of the Military.

Use Google Maps to trace your soldier's route!

I love making google maps. I use this free tool all the time for plotting out where my ancestors lived. I've used it to make a private custom map of Joseph's route through Europe. I took the information from the typed itinerary and placed markers for each town on my custom map. I've writen a HOW TO post for this! See how easy it is to make a custom google map!

A snapshot of my custom google map tracing Joseph K Wright's tour in Europe during WWII.

He made his was way from the port of Cherbourg to Luneville, France. A few weeks moving through Western France and by mid March they arrived at the Rhine River and were almost into Germany. He was in Germany from the end of March 1945 until the very end of April, when he was moved to Ruette and later Nauders, Austria.

July 5, 1945 he embarked for the US at Le Havre, France- first making a stop at Southampton, England. Then he boarded the "Queen Elizabeth" in Greenoch, Scotland on July 15, 1945 arriving in NY 5 days later at 11:30pm July 20, 1945.

I can't wait to learn and to share my finds. It really puts things into a different perspective. I am so thankful and awed by all of our soldiers and veterans. Thank you for your dedication to our freedom and our country. Your sacrifice and memories will be remembered.

If you have any experience or research tips for researching a WWII veteran, pleeease share your stories and tips!

Want to start researching a WW II veteran?

Check out The National Archives for WW II Records. They also have this great GUIDE to help you get started!

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    * researching my grandfather's ww2 experience from the European Theater of Operations, 324th Infantry, 44th Division - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!
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    * researching my grandfather's ww2 experience from the European Theater of Operations, 324th Infantry, 44th Division - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!
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    Response: Ebon Talifarro
    * researching my grandfather's ww2 experience from the European Theater of Operations, 324th Infantry, 44th Division - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!
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    Response: Ebon Talifarro
    * researching my grandfather's ww2 experience from the European Theater of Operations, 324th Infantry, 44th Division - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!

Reader Comments (11)

What a special tribute! Thank you for sharing. My WWII veteran Grandpa died in 2007. We heard some stories, but mostly I think he tried to block it all out. You have so much wonderful information!

Jun 1, 2011 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGretchen

Hi,
My dad was your grandfathers radio man in company K of the 324th! I just returned from the 324th annual reunion. My dad got wounded on Dec 4th, 1944 and didn't see your grandfather again until they both went to the same reunion in the early 1980s! They were very close in the army and it was an emotional re-uniting at that reunion because your grandfather didn't know if my dad had died that day. Contact me and we can talk about the reunion and your grandfather.

Sep 13, 2011 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Hello! My name is Mary Scalzo. Last night while talking to my dad(Robert Scalzo--who turns ninety this week) about his world war two expeiences, I decided to type in his company, division...information on google. I came across your web sight about your grandpa. I asked my dad if he recognized the name and he said yes that was my captain. I continued to read the rest of your information and the way we read it, my dad served with him from the time he left until the time he returned to the United States. I was reading the info off of my phone, and it was too small for him to read, so after this e mail, I am going to print it so he can read it. If you would like to talk to him for any reason, email me and we can set up a phone conversation. Mary Scalzo

Jan 22, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMary Scalzo

I was just going through some of my old things and refound my grandfathers pictures and a few items that were given to me after he passed away. He passed away while I was young, so I never got the chance to talk to him about the war, but I do have pictures if you are interested in them. According to his DD214, or whatever it was called then, he was part of Hq. Co 324th Infantry Regiment out of Camp Gruber in Oklahoma. He was a truck driver. Just email me if you are interested in the scanned copies I have.

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAmber

Wow my Uncle Joe is in the picture above. How awesome! He is two rows directly above your grandfather. Thanks for positing this!

Mar 11, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Franco Aguirre

Hi,
@ Mary S ... ask your dad if he knows Joe Hurst (my dad)... does he go to the 324th reunions? The next one is this Sept.
@ Barbara ... is your Uncle still alive? Does he go to the 324th reunions?
I'll post some info about the next reunion here within a couple days.

Mar 12, 2012 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hurst

Hi Barbara! I'm so happy you found me- do you mind sharing some information with me about your uncle? I'd love to know his full name, where he was from, etc. You can contact me via email if you prefer: desperategenie@gmail dot com. Thanks for commenting!

Great idea John- I'll post a follow up on the blog with information about the 324th Reunions!

Mar 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Registered Commenterabbyb

My father, Harold M. Loder "Skip" was in the 114th Infantry Regiment back in '38 and was transfered as part of the cadre to re-form the 324th; He was squad leader in a platoon of L Company, Third Battalion; by 19th Dec. '44 he had recieved a bronze star and a battlefield commission, later he ended up taking over the company mainly due to leadership and attricition. He is often mentioned in "The Combat History of the 324th Infantry Regiment in World War II." He now resides at Arlington Cemetary. I would be pleased if any who knew him would e-mail me at: gjloder@yahoo.com

Aug 15, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge J. Loder I

My father, Harold M. Loder "Skip" was in the 114th Infantry Regiment back in '38 and was transfered as part of the cadre to re-form the 324th; He was squad leader in a platoon of L Company, Third Battalion; by 19th Dec. '44 he had recieved a bronze star and a battlefield commission, later he ended up taking over the company mainly due to leadership and attricition. He is often mentioned in "The Combat History of the 324th Infantry Regiment in World War II." He now resides at Arlington Cemetary. I would be pleased if any who knew him would e-mail me at: gjloder@yahoo.com

Aug 15, 2013 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge J. Loder I

My Dad, Rodger Bucy trained with K co, 324th. He was a light machine gunner. About a month before going over seas he broke an ankle and could not go fight with the 324th. He later went over and fought with the 70th div. The names Joe Wright and Joe Hurst I have heard many time from my Dad. He and my mother aleays enjoyed going to the reunuins and seeing the army buddies again. We lost Dad March 26, 2014 at the age of 89. Not many of the greatest generation left any more.

Jun 23, 2014 at 6:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bucy

My grandfather was in L company, 3rd battalion, 324th regiment. Pfc and later Corporal "Billy" Hudson (George W, Jr). He never talked about the war, so I don't know much, or when exactly he joined L company, or if he had been in it the whole time since its arrival in Europe. It's been tough to find anything so far. Thanks for posting your grandfather's story and your resources as encouragement to others!

Jul 19, 2014 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterChad

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