By Jennie Acklin
Bill O’Brien, Third Vice-Commander of the Concord American Legion Post 431, and a Vietnam War veteran presented a memorial plaque at the Ellicottville American Legion on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.
He worked on this project for several months, researching the names and stories of servicemen who died in service during World War II, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War. A total of 16 names are on the memorial plaque, one of which was a classmate of O’Brien’s – and the plaque is donated in his memory – Orrie Earl Macomb Jr.
The plaque includes the names, service branch, service years and final resting place of local Ellicottville and Great Valley service members who died in battle.
His research for the names was done at the Ellicottville Memorial Library, with help from Laura Flannigan, for which he is most grateful. Utilizing their computers, he spent hours going through old newspapers, and online websites including Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com.
O’Brien grew up in Ellicottville, and has strong family ties to this area. The family farm was at the current location of the Ilex Inn, encompassing over 350 acres.
He enlisted April 26, 1965 and served in the Vietnam War as an Army engineer for three years, stationed at West Point.
O’Brien also presented a plaque to the Concord American Legion Post 431 in February 2017, honoring 27 service members from the Springville and Concord, NY area. After completing that project, he felt the need to honor his hometown veterans as well.
At the presentation, five of Ellicottville’s war casulaties were shared:
Daniel W. Lowry, a 1937 graduate of Ellicottville High School, was the first young serviceman of this town to perish during the years of World War II. Daniel enlisted in the U.S.A.A.F. in 1940 and trained as a Cadet pilot in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. ON Aug. 7, 1940, a letter was published in the Ellicottville Post from Cadet Lowry to his parents this shares his personal experience during his pilot training. Unfortunately, Daniel was killed in a place crash on Sept. 19, 1940 in Prattsville, AL.
Joseph M. O’Connor was valedictorian of the Ellicottville High School class of 1942. One of the most popular boys in school, Joseph was active in sports and high school band. Prior to entering the service, he worked at various stores in this village and was engaged to a local girl, with plans to marry after the war. PFC. Joseph M. O’Connor, while serving with A Company, 299th Combat Engineer Battalion, was Killed in Action at 6:30 a.m., June 6, 1944 while clearing the way for the Infantry on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.
Charles D. Lum, another local man, enlisted in the Army in 1940, was a Staff Sergeant in B Company, 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion, Field Artillery, 1st Division. Charles fought through the North Afircan Campaign, was with the landing party in Sicily, where he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. Staff Sergeant Charles D. Lum was among the first troops to land on the beaches of Normandy, but Died of Wounds at St. Lo in Normandy, France on July 17. 1944.
Douglas D. Dineen graduated from Ellicottville High School in 1939, where he played football, basketball and played in a prize-winning high school band. After college, Douglas enlisted as a radio man in the U.S.A.A.F. in 1942. He was assigned to C-47 with the 313th Troop Carrier Squadron, 29th Troup Carrier Group, which served in North Africa, Sicily, D-Day, the Rhine and Holland. Sgt. Douglas D. Dineen died April 10, 1945 when a British Sptifire plane hit the wing of his plane causing both planes to explode and go own in flames over White Church, England.
Robert J. Quinn graduated from Ellicottville High School and worked for the B&O Railroad before entering the service April 14, 1942. Robert was wounded in both arms and legs while stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky when a member of his company brought a live shell into the barracks and it accidentally exploded, killing two men and wounding 10 others. After trying unsuccessfully twice to get overseas action, Robert volunteered for paratrooper combat, having to lose 30 pounds and give up his Staff Sergeaut rating. Going overseas in October 1944, Robert was assigned to I Co. 327 Glider Inf. Regt. 101 ABN. DIV. After surviving the explosion at Fort Knox, The Battle of Bastonage and the Battle of the Bulgem, Staff Sergeant Robert J. Quinn, who had once worked for the B&O Railroad, was killed in a train wreck in Germany on April 25, 1945.
The plaque presented included:
World War II
Daniel W. Lowry, Cadet, US Army Air Corps
Lawrence C. Zefers, CPL, US Army
Irvin T. Ebert, PFC, US Army
Henry D. Smith, 2nd LT, USAAF
Alton G. Eastman, TM2, US Navy
Harold E. Shadbolt, CPL, USSAF
Joseph M. O’Connor, PFC, US Army
Charles D. Lum, S/SGT. US Army
William N. Burton, CPL, US Army
Douglas D. Dineen, SGT, USSAF
Robert J. Quinn, S/SGT, US Army
Egbert L. Barnhard, SGT, USSAF
William L. Gayhart, PCF, USMC
Orrie E. Macomb Jr., CPL, USMC
Arnold L. Robbins, S/SGT, US Army
Gregg A. Smith, PFC, USMC