My uncle, JOHN "JACK" V. HOYER's Last View of This World

My uncle, JOHN

     Wednesday, September 6, 2023, was a very emotional and special day. For my brother Jack, and I, it was definitely the highlight of our trip to retrace our father’s routes as a Medical Officer during WWII. But my brother and I had another important mission on our Italy trip agenda. If possible, we wanted to find the location where our Uncle Jack (John V.) Hoyer, my mother’s beloved younger brother and my brother’s namesake, was killed on his first day of combat, May 27, 1944, while serving with the 752nd Tank Bn.

      A few weeks prior to our trip, I stumbled upon the “752nd Tank Battalion in WWII” website of Bob Holt, whose father also served in the 752nd during the war and who has been writing a history of the tank battalion:

      I was thrilled to make this serendipity connection, and Bob seemed pleased, as well. He was very helpful in providing valuable information about the movements of the 752nd on that fateful day, through a lot of his own sleuthing. There are no official military records of that day and exactly where the tank battalion came under fire (no GPS back then or any digitalized records), but Bob pieced together his best guess from the unit’s previous “training” location near Eboli, knowing they had finally been deployed and were headed towards Rome. He sent me the GPS coordinates, and even a photo of the road and adjacent field where the fatal battle most likely occurred, after zooming in via Google maps. (the miracles of technology!!!)

      Towards the end of our stay in Cassino, our new friend, historian, and fellow WWII enthusiast, Pino Valente, along with his helpful assistant, “Alex,” generously agreed to drive us an hour and a half to pinpoint where our Uncle Jack was lost, near Maenza. With Pino and Alex’s excellent navigation skills, patience, and personal contacts, we eventually found the GPS location in question. We are forever grateful for and indebted to Pino and Alex’s assistance, without which, we would never have found “the spot” where our Uncle Jack had his last view of this world.

     In the book, you can read two very touching letters sent to Jack Hoyer’s parents, my grandparents, from his commanding officer and best friend in the unit. The letters are heart-wrenching and provide the circumstances and details of Jack's death, which I think provided some closure for the family. 

 The photos of that day’s extraordinary mission, tell the story.


Posted January 07, 2024

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