John J. Day Jr.
June 29, 1922 – October 31, 2019
Mr. John J. Day Jr., age 97 of Galena, Ohio (formerly of Copiague, NY of 54 years) passed away on October 31, 2019. WWII vet. Beloved husband of Mary Ann Day (Gross) (deceased). Loving father of James (Jocelyn), Elizabeth Duckwitz (Art), Barbara (deceased), and John III (Renee). Cherished grandfather of seven and great-grandfather of ten. Family and friends will gather at the funeral home on Thursday only, November 7, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be offered on Friday, November 8, at 9:45 a.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 1 Molloy Street in Copiague. Interment will follow at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, with military honors conducted by the United States Army Honor Guard.
On a Thursday in June 1922, John J. Day Jr. was the first of three sons (John, Martin, and Thomas) and one daughter (Catherine) born to John J. Day Sr. and Elizabeth Morge in Bronx, New York. John went to public schools, where he ran on the school’s track team, and received several medals for competing in the 440-yard relay. He also went to vocational schools and was part of the Golden Gloves after getting out of school.
He began his career with the Pennsylvania Railroad and was drafted (“WE WANT YOU”) into the U.S. Amy on October 16, 1942, and immediately got a two-week leave. Then on October 30, he went to Draft Board #100 in the Bronx, NY (located at 238 Street and White Plains Avenue). He took the subway to Penn Station, and then took Long Island Railroad to Camp Upton, Long Island, NY. The next day he went back to Penn Station and then took a train to Texas.
The 90th Division was activated at Camp Berkeley on March 5, 1942. Camp Berkeley was a large United States Army training installation during World War II. The base was located eleven miles (18 km) southwest of Abilene, Texas. He got there November 2, 1942, and was attached to the 90th Division, 358th Infantry Regiment, Anti-Tank Company, which later was known as the ‘Tough Hombres”. After nine months of training, he was given a two-week leave, and then returned to Camp Berkeley. Two weeks later he went to Louisiana for 2 ½ months of training, then back to Camp Berkeley for two more weeks of training and then headed off to California by train for 2-1/2 months of desert training and finally back to Fort Dix and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where he was able to play a bit of softball! Then at the end of March 1944, his unit took a ship to England arriving on April 9, 1944 - Easter Sunday.
After two months in England, he boarded a ship for the Invasion of Normandy. He landed on June 8, 1944 (D-Day +2) and then fought the German Army through occupied France. John as well as other “Tough Hombres” survived extreme conditions in the “Battle of the Seves River”. He was taken off the front line and relieved from battlefield duty on July 22, 1944, and sent to a hospital in England due to battle fatigue, and then went on to continue his final overseas assignment at a Postal Unit in Avon, France (one mile outside Fontainebleau, France). The war ended on May 8, 1945 (Victory in Europe “VE” Day) and he was sent back to Indian Gap, Pennsylvania (Army Depot) where he remained until his final discharge on November 12, 1945.
He earned the European Theatre (contains 2 battle stars & arrowhead for beach landing), Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star medals for his courageous service to our country and recently on October 8, 2019, was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the highest distinction that France can bestow upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds for France. (https://www.nbc4i.com/news/local-news/wwii-vet-honored-with-french-legion-of-honor-medal/) *Note: please copy and past this web address into your browser.
He returned to civilian life and his work with the Pennsylvania Central Railroad system in New York. He met his bride to be, Mary Ann Gross, at meetings of the Catholic War Veterans, and were married on May 28, 1949. Mary Ann was also part of the W.A.V.E.S. (Navy) during WWII and was an Aviation Machinist Mate (AMM2). They had four children, James (retired Navy SEAL), Elizabeth, Barbara (died at age 19 from Leukemia) and John III (also a retired Navy SEAL). John went on to retire at age 48, and began additional service with the Copiague School District (New York), eventually retiring from full employment in 1982.
Besides eating at their favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, John, and Mary Ann enjoyed travelling. During their marriage, they took many trips from New York to California to see their children and grandchildren. During their travels, they visited 49 states, which included seeing the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, and Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial, and climbed to the top of Diamond Head. In November 2004, they made the decision to move from Copiague, Long Island (New York) to Galena, Ohio and landed in the subdivision called “Meadows at Cheshire”. Sadly, Mary Ann passed away in 2011. John said, “Having my daughter close by and the friendly and helpful neighbors that I’ve met over the last 15 years is my favorite part of living here.”
In his earlier days, John was an avid bowler and for many years bowled in leagues two times a week. He loved listening to Big Bands like the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Tommy Dorsey Band. Mary Ann’s father’s brother-in-law, Joe Bauer actually played trumpet for Tommy Dorsey from 1937-1941. Currently, John spends time watching golf, Survivor, Ninja Warrior, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, various game shows, and, even the Bachelor and Bachelorette! His favorite movie of all time is from 1940, “Gone with The Wind”, for which he stood in line with his mother for over two hours just to see it! He loved gardening and cutting his grass using his ride-on lawn mower up until he fell two days before his 96th birthday which required a partial hip replacement surgery. Up until the age of 95, he played 9-holes of golf at Arrowhead Golf Course at least four times a week.
John continues to be involved in the community. Besides belonging to Westerville VFW Post 7883, he has participated in many Veteran celebrations and been asked to speak about his experiences serving in the military. Two years ago he spoke at a veterans’ breakfast celebration at Olentangy Orange High School to three classes of students. On his 95th birthday, he was presented a Resolution from the State of Ohio, Office of Governor John Kasich, and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, for his personal contributions as a member of this country’s World War II “Greatest Generation”.
John would say though that his proudest achievement is his four children, seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Learn more about Utah Beach and the 90th Division: (Copy and paste address into your browser) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Beach ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/90th_Infantry_Division_(United_States)
- Visitation Thursday, November 7, 2019
- Catholic Wake Service Thursday, November 7, 2019
- Funeral Mass Friday, November 8, 2019
- Interment with Military Honors Friday, November 8, 2019
John J. Day Jr.
November 7, 2019
May you rest in eternal peace and may your service to the greatest Nation on earth be ever remembered. You are a true son of democracy. Wanda and I always enjoyed our time with you at 90th reunions.