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McCormick John E.

John E. McCormick
Staff Sergeant
Serial Number:
578th Bomber Squadron, 392nd Bomber Group, Heavy
Date of Death:
Zoetermeer Old Churchyard Zoetermeer, Zoetermeer Municipality, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Purple Heart; Air Medal

John E. McCormick was born August 2, 1921 in Scranton, PA the sone of Irish Immigrants.
From Find a Grave:
Scranton Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA, June 30, 1985 - (40 years after the European War ended in victory). DUTCH HONOR CITY MAN'S ROLE IN THEIR STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM By Kevin O'Hara Television, magazines and newspapers have been filled recently with stories celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Allied victory In Europe during World War II. Overlooked in this country was one young man who died during the final months of the war. He was a Scrantonlan who chose to join resistance fighters to strike a personal blow at Hitler. His name was John McCormick and though he may be little remembered In the United States, he Is not forgotten In Holland. During the celebrations marking V-E Day, one Dutch town made a special point of honoring McCormick as part of its week-long gala. John McCormick had an ordinary life from what we know of him. He grew up in the city, attended St. Thomas High School and later Central High School, where he played football. Like so many of the other ordinary young Americans of that time, when the war called him, he proved to have resources far beyond the imagination of the enemy. John's quiet bravery was typical of that of many of his fellow countrymen. He joined the military in 1942 and was assigned to the Air Corps - a waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber. His plane was called "The Jolly Duck" and flew many bombing runs over German-held territory. John took part in 30 missions. In those days, completing 30 missions meant your tour was up and you were supposed to be returned stateside. But on the 30th bombing run, John's plane was shot down. One of the plane's engines was damaged over Nordhauscn, Germany, and the plane attempted to limp back home. The pilot made the decision to crash-land In Holland hoping to reach territory that English forces had already occupied. The plane smashed down in a soggy cowfield outside of the town of Zoetermeer, Holland. The nine members of the crew all got out safely but quickly split into groups. Four were captured within three days and four eventually made it back to England. McCormick went his own way. From what is known, it seems he laid low for several days in the cold February of 1945. When he moved out, John made contact with local Dutch resistance forces. They offered to lead him to safety. Instead, he opted to link up with them and join the resistance struggle against the Germans. John fought side by side with the Dutch until he was killed In an ambush outside a hunting lodge on April 24, ten days before the Germans surrendered in the Netherlands. John's death did not go unmarked or unremembered by his Dutch compatriots. When Zoetermeer was liberated, John was burled In a hero's grave. After the war, the U.S. Army's Grave Registration team sought to move the body to an American military cemetery. The Dutch contacted John's father in Scranton and he wrote back that he wanted his son to lie with the last friends he knew. So it is that John McCormick is the only identified World War II American service man casualty in Europe whose known burial place Is outside a military cemetery. For years the town of Zoetermeer has maintained John's grave. During Its celebrations to mark the end of the conflict, they gave him a prominent place in their honors. Many former American servicemen were at the emotional ceremony where the Dutch spoke of their gratitude. Local bands played, a parade was held, the audience sang the Dutch national anthem and a bugler played taps. At 8 p m, there was a full two minutes of silence, part of a moment of national observance. Young people saw how their elders were moved and perhaps In that moment learned a bit about the true price of freedom.
The other crew members of the Jolly Duck were; all survived, some evade capture with the help of Dutch Resistance:
1/Lt Joseph R. Walker, pilot, evaded capture; 2/Lt Ralph C. Casstevens, copilot, Evaded Capture; 1/Lt John J. Donohue, bombardier-navigator, Evaded Capture; S/Sgt Harold A. Shea, nose gunner, POW; Sgt Francis J. Nagle, radio operator, POW; S/Sgt Allan W. Hicks, engineer, POW; S/Sgt John E. McCormick, waist gunner, KIA; S/Sgt John A.H. Lingle, waist gunner, POW; S/Sgt Elmer E. Duerr, tail gunner, Evaded Capture