Jerry J. Giordano

Branch: ARMY
Service Number: 32751097
Rank: Private First Class
Unit: 4th Infantry Div, 12th Infantry Reg, Co. “G”

November 14th, 2017 will mark the 73rd anniversary of the death of Mt. Ephraim resident and World War II soldier, Private First Class, Jerry J. Giordano.

1733 Cleveland St.
1839 Morris St.
Jerry was born Genaro Joseph Giordano on November 7, 1917 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania to Italian immigrant parents, Pasquale and Rosina “Rose” Giordano. Jerry was the eldest child of Giordano family. His siblings were Angelo born in 1918, Frank born in 1920, Nicholas born in 1922, and Charles who was born in 1923 but died from diphtheria at 9 months old.
The family lived at 1839 Morris Street by 1920 and later at 1733 Cleveland Street. Both address are located in the Point Breeze section of Philadelphia. 

According to the 1930 Census, the Giordano family had moved to 57 West Kings Highway in Mt. Ephraim (presently the office of Kingsgate Realty). All of the children were attending school and Pasquale was working for a company that manufactured gas stoves. By 1940, Jerry had left school after attending 7th grade and was working in sales for the stove manufacturer that his father and brother Angelo were employed.

57 W. Kings Highway
97th Infantry Div. Logo
Jerry enlisted into the Army from Camden, NJ on February 15th, 1943.  It is still not known definitively where he completed basic training, but according to the surviving bits of his military service file, he was with Company "D", 387th Infantry Regiment, 97th Infantry Division as of April 1, 1944.  The 97th Infantry Division had approximately 5000 soldiers from their unit transferred out while training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and sent to replacement depots in the European and China-Burma-India Theater.  Another Mount Ephraim soldier, Leslie Holtzapfel served with the 97th Infantry Division before being transferred to Burma as a reinforcement soldier for Merrill’s Marauders. He was later reported missing and presumed dead.
4th Infantry Div. Logo
12th Infantry Reg, Logo
Giordano was sent to a replacement depot in Belgium and from there, assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division.  While I am still working to confirm the date when Jerry was transferred to this company (late July/early August), it is known that he was with the division and involved in what is known as the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.  Below are excerpts from "after action" reports of the 4th Infantry Division dated November 8th through the 13th of 1944. They explain the actions the division encountered each day. 

(November 8, 1944, marks the beginning of the most epic battle in the long and proud history of the 4th Infantry Division. Most of you have never heard of the Hurtgen Forest. The toughest battle ever fought by the 4th Infantry Division was waged in the Hurtgen Forest in November and the first few days of December of 1944. The 12th Infantry Regiment entered the battle first, followed on 16 November by the rest of the 4ID. -Bob Babcock)

8 November 1944 - D+156
The 4th Division was relieved from attachment to V Corps and attached to VII Corps.
The 8th Infantry closed in its new assembly area in the vicinity of Zweifall at 0730 and started tactical reconnaissance. The 1st Battalion of the 12th Infantry attacked at 1230 to take a limited objective. Companies B and after C were stopped by machine gun and small arms fire at 1442. The enemy was well dug in and had put in tactical wire covered by its machine guns. Positions were consolidated for the night. The 22nd Infantry remained in the vicinity of Krinkelt until 2200 at which time movement was initiated.

9 November 1944 - D+157
The 8th Infantry remained in assembly areas and continued tactical reconnaissance.
The 12th Infantry remained attached to the 28th Infantry Division. Company K of the 3rd Battalion attacked at 1100, advanced 250 yards and received machine gun fire at 1110. A fire fight occurred at 1144, 400 yards across the line of departure. A counterattack was also repulsed at 1305 and several men from the 109th Infantry Regiment were rescued. Company I moved forward at 1305 on the left, and elements of Company K passed across the enemy tactical wire at 1630 were stopped by heavy enemy fires. 
The 22nd Infantry closed in the new assembly area by 0930 and reconnaissance was conducted in areas of projected operations. The 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion, less Company A, which has been a permanent attachment since D-Day, was relieved by the 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion at 0800.

10 November 1944 - D+158
The 8th Infantry continued active reconnaissance, and in anticipation of the projected attack, various attachments were effected.
The 12th Infantry remained attached to the 28th Infantry Division until 1900. New attachments were effected. The 1st Battalion moved out at 0630 and attacked at 0700. It advanced 100 to 200 yards when Company F hit a mine field and was forced to withdraw to reorganize. The 3rd Battalion was counterattacked at 1220 by enemy using flame throwers and the 2nd Battalion was also counterattacked at 1300. In both cases, the enemy employed one company. The enemy was repulsed and 38 prisoners were taken. The 22nd Infantry, still assembled, made extensive reconnaissance and preparations for impending operations. Attachments were effected.
Battle of Hürtgen Forest Map 

11 November 1944 - D+159
Our advances were contested stubbornly; the enemy was even counterattacking at every opportunity in strength varying from platoon to company. At least three such counterattacks were preceded by heavy artillery preparation. In addition to the formal counterattacks, the enemy aggressively attempted to infiltrate our line and attack our forces from the rear. Shelling by enemy artillery was constant throughout the period. Tanks and self-propelled guns were seen mostly in the vicinity of Hurtgen.
The 2nd Battalion of the 8th Infantry moved to a forward assembly area, dug in and secured itself for the night. The 12th Infantry improved positions beginning at 0800 and efforts were made to clean enemy resistance in the rear areas of the 2nd Battalion. Enemy pressure in this area continued throughout the day and resulted in Companies E and G being isolated. The 1st Battalion attacked to reach isolated companies but was stopped by heavy machine guns, small arms and 88 mm fire. The 22nd Infantry continued reconnaissance, planning and coordination for next operations.

12 November 1944 - D+160
By holding our attempts to advance practically to a standstill, and his thorough employment of mines of all kinds, barbed wire, and blocks of various nature, the enemy found little difficulty in counterattacking fiercely with infantry supported by armor. Continuous shelling by three to four batteries, ranging in caliber from light to medium, made it difficult for our forces to organize a thrust against the enemy.
No changes for the 8th and 22nd Infantry. The 12th Infantry repulsed enemy counterattacks at 0841, 0846, 1020 and 1413. The enemy attack at 1020 consisted of approximately 150 infantrymen and some tanks but was forced to retreat toward Hurtgen at 1203, leaving about 90 men isolated behind companies F and G, and the 1st Battalion which had previously attacked and broken through to relieve F and G companies. At the end of the day, the enemy had cut communications and contacts between the CT 12 and 1st Bn and F and G companies.

13 November 1944 - D+161
The 12th Infantry was engaged in fierce fighting in the Hurtgen Forest. Casualties were high and it was necessary to unify all efforts to obtain necessary replacements.
The enemy remained relatively inactive. Its defense was organized along the same front lines from which patrols operated to probe our positions and to determine our strength. Twenty-one shellings were reported by the 4th Infantry Division units. It was estimated that there were three battalions of enemy artillery capable of firing into the sector held by CT 12. All battalions of the 8th and 22nd Infantry conducted instructions for all officers in adjustment of artillery fire. Beginning at 0730, isolated companies A, C, F and G, 12th Infantry, initiated a short withdrawal to reestablish contact. By mid-afternoon, while being harassed by small arms and artillery fire, the operation had been completed successfully.

It was a misty and bitterly cold day on November 13th.  Companies G and F made a withdrawal to the south from the area where they were pinned down to re-join the rest of the regiment.  Some time during this maneuver, Jerry was struck through the abdomen by fragments from a German artillery shell and suffered a compound fracture of the upper right arm.

He was carried back the the battalion aid station in West Germeter at 6:20pm. Here the medic applied an infection preventing chemical known as sulfa powder into the open wounds and attempted to control any bleeding. His broken arm was wire splinted and a 1/2 gram of morphine was administered to help manage his tremendous pain. Twenty minutes later, Giordano was transported by the 4th Medical Battalion Collection Company B and evacuated from the front to a casualty clearing station where doctors attempt to stabilize his condition. While en route, Giordano was given an additional 1/4 gram of morphine and 2 units of plasma. At 10:15pm, they arrived at clearing station where he was given a dose of penicillin.

Unfortunately, this facility was not adequately equipped to treat the severity of his wounds. Jerry was loaded into an ambulance and transported to the 1st Hospital Unit of the 51st Field Hospital. The hospital had been housed in a school building in the town of Roetgen, Germany. PFC Giordano was admitted at 11pm and doctors worked diligently throughout the morning to repair the perforations in his colon, however, Jerry died at 8:10am on November 14th and had been sent to the military cemetery for interment later that afternoon.

51st Field Hospital, Roetgen

Jerry was buried on the afternoon of November 14th in Plot V, Row 6, Grave 105 at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. The war department sent correspondence to Rose and Pasquale Giordano in March 1947 to inquire whether their intentions were to have their son’s remains returned to the United States or buried in an American War Cemetery in Europe.  They chose to have him buried with his fellow fallen soldiers at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery.  Private First Class Jerry J. Giordano was moved to his permanent resting place at Plot F Row 10 Grave 48 on November 8, 1948.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge posthumously.
Jerry Giordano Grave Marker

Jerry was survived by his parents, Pasquale and Rose, and brothers Angelo, Frank and Nicholas. All 3 of his brothers served in the Army during World War II.  The bell in the steeple of Sacred Heart Church in Mt. Ephraim was donated in Jerry’s memory by his parents. The bell was first placed on the old church on Black Horse Pike, and later transferred to the new church on Kings Highway when it was built.

May their sacrifice never be forgotten.


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