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 Joseph Paul “Joe” Mass

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Joseph Paul “Joe” Mass

  • Birth 12 May 1912 Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
  • Death 16 Aug 1998 Parma, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
  • Burial Brook Park, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
  • Plot Section 39, Plot 3856 Grave 1
  • Memorial ID 5121016

Husband of Margaret Lillian Moenich Mass (1918-2000). Father of Maryann, Rosemary, Gerard and James. Grandfather of 7. Great-grandfather of 6. Brother of Nelson, Frances Socha, Rose, Frank, Mary, Lucille, Christine. Son of George Bonamasso and Catherine (nee Dragonetti).

Married May 16, 1942 at St. Francis DeSales in Parma, Ohio

WWII Army Veteran (1942-1945).

Joseph Mass, was shot in the head and left for dead on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II in Ligneuville, Belgium.

On that day in 1944, a German SS regiment killed 81 American prisoners near the Belgian town of Malmedy in one of the most brutal military atrocities of the war. SS soldiers herded the unarmed American soldiers into a field, then opened fire with machine guns. Prisoners who survived the fusillade were shot in the head. A few managed to escape, playing dead until the Germans left, then crawling to safety.

Joseph, then a corporal with the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 9th Armored Division, had a similar experience with enemy forces a short distance away. He escaped death, but not the Germans. He was recaptured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. As a result of the shooting, he spent the rest of his life with a loss of hearing in his right ear and a bullet fragment lodged in his skull.

On Dec. 17, 1944, he and seven other soldiers from his company heard gunfire as they approached the area of the Malmedy Massacre. They encountered a wave of German soldiers, tanks and vehicles before reaching the site.

Realizing they were outnumbered, they surrendered. They were marched to the side of the road and lined up so they faced some fields. One by one, they were shot in the back of the head.

Only Joseph Mass survived. The bullet that was meant to kill him entered the back of his neck and exited through his windpipe.

He was unconscious for several hours. When he regained consciousness, he crawled to a clump of bushes 25 yards away, rolled under them and passed out again.

The next morning, a villager found Joseph Mass, brought him something warm to drink, then directed him to a building in the town. When he got there, he realized too late that the building was a hotel that served as German headquarters. He was taken prisoner and moved from camp to camp until the war ended.

Joseph Mass had served in the Rhineland and the Ardennes. He received the Purple Heart.

His mother died when he was 9 years old. Because his father was unable to take care of seven children by himself, some of the children were raised by relatives. Others, including Mr. Mass, lived at the Parmadale orphanage for a few years.

Joseph Mass worked as a pressman for the World Publishing Co. of Cleveland for 42 years before he retired.

Thoughout the years, he maintained a vegetable garden, which included tomatoes, green beans and zucchini.

Family Members


Enternal Rest Grant Them O Lord

May 16, 1942

  • Created by: Mark D. Musil
  • Added: 15 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5121016
  • Mark D. Musil
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Paul “Joe” Mass (12 May 1912–16 Aug 1998), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5121016, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, Brook Park, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Mark D. Musil (contributor 31402534) .