|Birth: ||Dec. 20, 1914|
Hanover (Allamakee County)
|Death: ||Oct. 5, 1944|
Company C, 17th Tank Battalion, 7th Armored Division. Died near Overloon, Holland.
Parents were Joseph Michael A'Hearn and Agnes Honora Devitt A'Hearn.
I would like to thank C. Bangsund for the following article.
Thursday, Feb 15, 1945 Dear Mrs. A'Hearn, I received your letter a couple of days ago and am only too glad to answer it and try to be of help to you. Am sorry that you had to get such a report about Gerald and wish to extend to you my deepest sympathy, as well as from the rest of his friends in the Company. Yes, Gerald and I were good buddies. He was a swell fellow and well liked by everyone, and you can really be proud of him. I don't know whether this will pass the censor or not, but I sure hope it does because I can understand how much better you will feel if you know the real facts about how it happened. Yes, Mrs. A'Hearn, Gerald was in a tank when it happened. I was also in one near him and saw it. His tank was hit by a German anti-tank gun and the tank immediately burst into flames and burnt up. Gerald never knew what hit him though and so didn't suffer in any way. That's about all there is to it and I sure do hate to have to tell you something like that but I know it's the true facts that you want. I'm sure it will be some relief to you knowing that he didn't do any suffering at all but died immediately. Yes, Mrs. A'Hearn, I know your son John. I met him thru Gerald while we were at Camp Polk, La. I would sure like to run into him over here. Only hope that I have been of some help to you. If there is anything else you would like to know or that I could do for you please write and let me know because I would be more than glad to do it. May God bless you always.
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Gerald James A'Hearn, the seventh child of Agnes Honora [Devitt] A'Hearn and Joseph Michael A'Hearn, was born December 20, 1914 in Hanover Township of Allamakee County, Iowa. When he was not quite twelve years old, his father was killed in a car accident. He then had to quit school and hire out as a farm laborer. He later worked with the CCC and at a fish hatchery. January 31, 1942, less than two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Gerald and his brother John enlisted in the United States Army at Fort Meade, Maryland. Their brother Clem also served during WWII. Clem was in a Navy Construction Battalion (Seabees) and served in the Pacific. Gerald completed Basic Training and machine gun training courses at Camp Polk, Louisiana. During his training he was assigned to the 32nd Armored Regiment. September 20, 1943 he was assigned to Company C of the 17th Tank Battalion as a tank machine gunner. The 17th Tank Battalion was a unit assigned to the 7th Armored Division. August 11, 1944, the 17th Tank Battalion went ashore at Normandy in France. As Gerald went ashore with the 17th, his brother John, who was in a Tank Destroyer unit, was landing about four miles away. The brothers did get to see each other once after they both arrived in France. John would receive two Purple Heart Medals for wounds received in combat over the next few months, and would go on to reenlist after the war. The 17th Tank Battalion conducted combat operations under General Patton in France until September when they crossed the Moselle River near Metz, France. They then continued combat operations as they moved through Belgium and into Holland. Stiff resistance by German forces along the Meuse River in the area of Overloon, Holland had stopped the advance of Allied forces. And it was in that area, near the town of St. Anthonis, Holland, in the land of windmills and tulips, that Corporal Gerald James A'Hearn was killed in action. The date was October 5, 1944. Gerald A'Hearn was returned to America in 1950. December 5, 1950, he was interred in a group plot, with those who died with him, in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. His niece, Jean A'Hearn Prestemon, has this final memory of her Uncle Gerald: "It was late 1943. I was nearly six years old, but I remember it because it was an emotional experience for our whole family. Gerald was getting ready to go overseas. We lived in the little house on School Street, later called First Avenue SW in Waukon. I know it was morning because we children were still in our pajamas. It was early winter, I think, and we were all in the kitchen near the stove. Mike was a baby, probably about nine months old. I can still see Mike sitting on the oven door while Gerald talked to him. Joe and I were on the right and left of Gerald with his arms around us. He talked to our parents, saying goodbye, I guess. Mother told us when we were older that he said that he didn't expect to ever see the new baby, my sister Mary, who was born a few months later. Grandma Agnes A'Hearn was notified later, in 1944, that Gerald was missing in action. Grandma prayed that he had been taken prisoner, as some soldiers had been during the war." That was not to be.
- by Maury Gallagher
Joseph Michael A'Hearn (1873 - 1926)
Agnes Dewitt A'Hearn (1879 - 1951)
Irene Agnes A'Hearn Deeny (1902 - 1984)*
Francis Joseph A'Hearn (1906 - 1986)*
John Martin A'Hearn (1912 - 1966)*
Gerald James A'Hearn (1914 - 1944)
Harold Patrick A'Hearn (1917 - 1918)*
Helen Marguerite A'Hearn O'Hagan (1917 - 1988)*
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Created by: Son of the 7th
Record added: Mar 28, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35280979