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The Sergeant John W. Gabersek Jr. Memorial Scholarship
April 28 2008 NEWSFLASH!
The U.S. Navy has corrected great uncle Amin's Report of Casualty to June 6th, 1944,
and the new grave marker has been cut and inscribed!
Read the rest of the story below then visit here!
Coxswain Amin Isbir
Killed in Action 6-6-1944
After nearly four years of frustration, chance, and patient persistence my great uncle Amin's date of death has finally been officially corrected. When I first began to research my great uncle, I found that his tombstone in Normandy and in hometown McKeesport indicated that he was killed on June 8th. History and his shipmates knew otherwise. With the help of Lt. Nathan Kaspar of the U.S. Navy's POW/MIA Casualty Assistance Division and the signed testimony's of the members of my great uncle's unit, the 6th Naval Beach Battalion, the correction became official on the 28th of April, 2008, nearly 64 years from the date of the allied invasion, June 6th, 1944.
Amin's corrected Grave Marker is made ready for replacement on
Ascension Day May 21st 2009.
My cousin and I will be present in France for the event.
Setting the record straight.
Although I wish I could say that the road to setting the record straight were an easy one, but it's been just the opposite. After I spoke with Amin's commanding officer and friend Lt. Joseph Vaghi back in June 2004, I have been determined to correct a then 60 year old error. Since then, I never thought I'd be able to complete my quest to honor my great uncle's supreme sacrifice until I spoke with Navy Lt. Nathan Kaspar on April 25th, 2008. Lt. Kaspar immediately returned my call and the paperwork began. I couldn't believe my ears when he said, "this doesn't seem to difficult". Yet getting to the right person in the right position took nearly 4 years.
Shortly after speaking with Lt. Vaghi in 2004 I contacted Senator John Warner's office in Washington D.C. thinking that a congressional finding may be required. At the time the Senator was the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. After 6 months of corresponding with one of Senator Warner's staffers communication mysteriously ended. A follow up phone call to the Senator's office found that the staffer I had been conversing with had resigned and all the correspondence was lost. More than a year past and progression with the new replacement led to another dead end.
By now it was Christmas 2006 and I had the honor of meeting Lt. Vaghi for the first time at his home in suburban Washington. He and I spoke at great length regarding my great uncle for nearly 2 hours. Listening to Lt. Vaghi I tried my best to find out all which had happened prior to, during, and after the invasion. I was indeed blessed to have spoken to the man who knew my great uncle best. "We had the best company because of Ami." When he said that tears filled my eyes for the great uncle I've never met. After the meeting I sat down and wrote the beginnings of this web site eager to tell the story.
In June of 2007 I had the privilege of attending the 6th Naval Beach Battalion reunion in Bedford Virginia. I was able to meet my great uncle's shipmates and collected their vivid recollections of that day. With all the pieces of the puzzle finally in place, I sent to each of the men a comprehensive written report for sign off. As the signed testimonies from my great uncle's platoon-mates started coming back to my home I had a very fortunate and chance meeting in Washington D.C. with the Program Manager of the U.S. Air Force Missing Persons Division, MSgt. Susan L. Williams.
There is much to be said for being at the right place at the right time and October 20th, 2007 was such a day. While escorting my great uncle John to the WWII Memorial we took a detour to the newly opened Air Force Memorial located just opposite the Navy Annex and The Pentagon. This is where we met Master Sergeant Williams. As John and I toured the Memorial, MSgt Williams and her family and friends said hello, thanked John for his service, took some photographs and went on their way. We ran into her group again as we heading to the parking lot. I asked the Williams party if they would like to look at some photos of John and the entire military family; they were keenly interested. I began to tell MSgt. Williams about my efforts to have Johnnie be awarded the Purple Heart and to have my great uncle Amin's record corrected. It was that moment that I learned of MSgt. Williams position in the Air Force. She placed me in contact with her Navy counterpart, a Lt. Brownlowe. What a stroke of luck I thought.
Within a few days Lt. Brownlowe's phone was ringing with yours truly anxious to bring closure to my great uncles death. After informing him about the details surrounding Amin's death, he said he would first need to acquire my great uncle's Casualty Report from the records center in St. Louis. Once in hand we would move forward from there. Thinking now that the goal was finally within reach, I was hopeful but months went by. After a series of emails and phone calls that went unanswered I nearly gave up.
In April 2008
I picked up the phone one last time. It was then that Lt. Nathan Kaspar
stepped into the ongoing saga. When I explained to him the details I had
assembled and the signed testimony's from my great uncle's friends, he explained
that by the end of the day my mission would be accomplished. I couldn't
believe my ears. He would pull from micro-fiche Amin's DD-1300 (Report of
Casualty), present the new evidence to his Commanding Officer, initiate the
correction and issue a corrected casualty report! Once again I couldn't believe my
ears! Lt. Kasper was right and within hours of receiving the testimonies
from my great uncle's platoon-mates the new DD-1300 came to life nearly 64 years
after my great uncle's death. Truly amazing!
With my great uncle's paperwork and story now passing into amended history I wish I could say my mission is complete, yet, it has just begun. At the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford Virginia missing from the Necrology Wall which lists the names if the D-Day fallen is the name of U.S. Navy Coxswain Amin Isbir. Hopefully with the amended report as evidence his name will join the 2500 soldiers, sailors, and airmen which are currently listed as those killed in action on D-Day.
Lastly, there comes the issue of placing an amended headstone over my great uncle's final resting place in Normandy France. Although I don't believe that either event will require divine intervention, I can only pray that these tasks will proceed as smooth as those final days of April 2008. UPDATE: Even in death, my great uncle is still a Navy man under Army control. Believe it or not, all casualties' records are kept by the Army regardless of service branch. So the paperwork has been started by the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire his newly amended causality report from the Army. Then once in their hands, the ABMC will issue the orders for the stone cutters to begin their work. 2ND UPDATE!
My many thanks to the following patriots who helped make this impossible dream of mine possible:
My Great Aunt
Della Isbir who sadly passed away before the report was amended.
To my friends of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion
Lt. Cmdr Joseph Vaghi
Pharmacist Mate Andy Chmiel
Pharmacist Mate Vince Kordack
Signalman Richard “Red” Onines
Motor Machinist Mate John Rogers
Motor Machinist Mate Clyde Whirty
Coxswain Ed Marriott
Radioman Torre Tobiassen
Hospital Apprentice Frank Walden
Seamen Curtis Fleming
Seaman Bob Giguere
6th Naval Beach Battalion web site historian Ken Davey
MSgt. Susan L. Williams, United States Air Force Missing Persons Programs Manager (Retired)
Lt. Nathan L. Kaspar, United States Navy POW/MIA Case Analyst
Ms. Martha Sell - American Battle Monuments Commission - Washington D.C.
Mr. Daniel Neese - American Battle Monuments Commission - Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Uncle Amin was the first of 11 children to be born in the United States. His brother Espir, better known as Izzy, was like a father to me. Amin's brother J.B., my Step Grandfather, supported my mother and grandmother during the depression and throughout the war years. I can only hope that all are now together in the presence of God. My mother lives today carrying the memory of the tragic news of Amin's death. Please visit my Home-front Page for more information about life in McKeesport during the war.
My mother Arlene, Grandmother Frances Isbir, Great Grandmother Mary Isbir, and J.B. Isbir
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