|Birth: ||Jan. 10, 1922|
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Death: ||Apr. 8, 2010|
John "Jack" Agnew of Maple Village, formerly of Huntingdon Valley, passed away at Abington Memorial Hospital on Thursday, 8 April 2010, of complications from heart disease. He was 88.
He was the beloved husband of Elizabeth "Betty" (Potts); devoted father of Barbara Maloney and Lynne Cooper; grandfather of Damian, Molly, Jenifer, Bryan and Bradley; great-grandfather of Jack and Daniel; and brother of Charles C.
Born in Belfast, Ireland, Mr. Agnew's family immigrated to the United States when he was 5 years old. He graduated from Olney High School in 1940, and earned a certificate at the Pennsylvania Institute of Criminology in Philadelphia in 1950.
Retired, Mr. Agnew's 36-year career as an installer began with Western Electric Co. and his granddaughter, Jenifer Bateman, said it continued through the evolution of the Bell system.
Jack began his military service in the U.S. Army in 1942 and the parts of his service that made him famous occurred while he was a private first class (‘PFC') in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (‘PIR') of the 101st Airborne Division.
Jack Agnew was preparing for the D-Day invasion of Normandy when the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, labeled his unit The Dirty Dozen. In the 1967 movie of the same name, Mr. Agnew said his unit's exploits were "blown out of proportion . . ." "We were a rough-and-tumble group of guys, and we had some run-ins with the MPs," he said "But there were some things in the film that have no relation to us."
What was true, he said, was that his unit did not have an easy stroll through daisy fields during the battles of D-Day, Operation Market Garden, and Battle of the Bulge.
In a 1999 interview with Joseph S. Kennedy of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jack said that on the night before the dawn invasion of 6 June 1944, his unit parachuted into the countryside outside Carentan, Normandy. "The regiment's members were dropped off course and widely scattered," Kennedy wrote. "Yet the Dirty Dozen managed to blow up the bridge, which cut off German reinforcements to Utah Beach." "Joined by other paratroopers, Agnew was in continuous combat for more than a week, which included a mistaken bombing by planes of the U.S. Army Air Forces."
Later in 1944, Kennedy wrote, Mr. Agnew's unit of the 506th parachuted into the Netherlands and survived a devastating German counterattack during the failed Operation Market Garden.
His final combat jump, Mr. Agnew told Kennedy, came when the 506th tried to help rescue other units of the 101st, which the Germans had surrounded during the Battle of the Bulge. A historical report of the 506th PIR actions says that 20 paratroopers jumped into fields southwest of Bastogne to scout ground where cargo planes could safely drop supplies.
The historical account names Mr. Agnew as the soldier who set up a device "on top of a large brick pile" which sent out "a clear radar signal" to guide C-47 cargo planes to a safe drop zone. "By the late afternoon of December 23, 1944," the account reads, "241 C-47s of Troop Carrier Command delivered many tons of urgently needed supplies to the joyous and thankful 101st Airborne." Mr. Agnew's military record reports that he was wounded on that date, earned a Purple Heart and, during his 1942-45 service, earned a Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Jack Agnew joined the National Rifle Association in 1938, and was a longtime instructor for the NRA. He was also a lifetime member of the Langhorne Rod and Gun Club.
His funeral was held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, 13 April, at the Huntingdon Valley Presbyterian Church, 2364 Huntingdon Pike, in Huntingdon Valley. Interment was in Forest Hills Memorial Park.
Bio compiled by Charles A. Lewis.
Forest Hills Memorial Park
Maintained by: Charles A. Lewis
Originally Created by: Lizann
Record added: Apr 12, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50984323