Last flight over Japan – The Daily Gazette

Amsterdam lawyer Robert N. Going, who died in 2019, wrote “Honor Roll: The World War II Dead of Amsterdam, NY” in 2010.

Using press clippings from Recorder, museum collections and diaries, Going compiled information on 176 Amsterdam-area men who died during the war.

The first was William E. Hasenfuss, Jr. of a family of nine children on Northampton Road. Hasenfuss had flown planes at an airfield in Perth before enlisting in 1939. He died at Hickham Air Field in Hawaii during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Amsterdam’s final victim was listed in the book as Seaman Orlie Charles Thomas, who died at Brooklyn Naval Hospital on November 23, 1945. He had served aboard the battleship Mississippi in the Pacific.

However, in his blog titled Judge Report posted online some time after the publication of ‘Honor Roll’, Going wrote: “In researching old newspapers on the Amsterdam war dead of World War II, I found myself arrested June 30, 1946. Should have kept going, as I now learn that another hero of Amsterdam has gone unrecognized, and may in fact be Amsterdam’s latest battle death of World War II, bringing the total to about 180.

The Recorder reported on July 8, 1946, “Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Gawron, 7 Catherine Street, have been advised by the War Department that their son, Technical Sergeant Edward F. Gawron, previously missing in action July 3, 1945 over Japan, has now been officially declared dead. He was killed in action over Japan on the same date he was reported missing.

Born in Amsterdam in 1925, Gawron graduated from Wilbur H. Lynch High School in 1942. His family called him Patch. He was 20 when he died.

He worked at Mohawk Carpet Mills while in high school and after graduation was employed at the Naval Supply Depot in Scotia. Inducted into military service on April 10, 1943, he spent two months with the Medical Corps. He applied for and was granted a transfer to the Air Force to become an Air Cadet. He attended gunnery school and then traveled to Fort Myers, Florida to conduct training flights.

Gawron returned home after a 15-day furlough before going to the Mariana Islands with the 20th Air Force as a B-29 gunner. He was on his 35th mission when his B-29 was shot down over Honshu Island by anti-aircraft fire.

The crew was on their last bombing mission which would have completed their tour of duty. The war ended on September 2, 1945.

According to the Find A Grave website, Gawron’s plane was called Miss Hap. The website also reported that Gawron was buried in a military cemetery in Missouri.

Adjutant General Edward Witsell’s condolence letter continues: “I realize the anguish you have suffered since he was first reported missing and I deeply regret the grief this latest report brings to you. . May the knowledge that he made the ultimate sacrifice for his home and his country be a source of lasting comfort.

T/Sergeant Gawron is survived by his parents, Stephen and Julia Zintack Gawron; four brothers. Peter, Leonard, Joseph and Richard and six sisters, Connie, Sally, Veronica, Irene, Dolores and Mary.

Richard Gawron provided information for this column. Richard and his wife Frances now live in Niskayuna.

Richard’s parents were born in Poland. Richard said his father had built their house on Catherine Street, next to upper Church Street. The family raised chickens.

A 1932 city directory lists Stephen Gawron’s work as a stoker. He also held positions at MJ Wytrwal Coal and Oil in Amsterdam and American Locomotive in Schenectady.

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