(courtesy of Rob Gawal)
50th Parachute Infantry
APO 230 New York, NY
20 July 44
Mrs. W. J. McKnight
6739 Chester Avenue
Philadelphia 42, Pa.
My Dear Mrs. McKnight,
Existing War Department regulations
prevent the disclosure of any information relative to any casualties
incurred in combat.
However, without violating any
regulation and with your permission I would like to present my personal
feelings and those of my company about your nephew William, or "Mac" as
he was [known] to us.
He was a splendid soldier throughout and
extremely capable but it as not through these capabilities alone that
endeared him to his officers and buddies and gained their respect.
His sense of humor was boundless and I never remember ever being with
him that he was not smiling or laughing and the center of an
enthusiastic group of friends. He was literally the "sparkplug" of
the hear and life of his company and his place will never quite be
It may be difficult for you to
understand my next statement but please feel that y sorrow in some way
measures with yours as I have had the glorious opportunity to be a sort
of parent to 'Mac" and his buddies for 20 months and their trials and
tribulations afforded me the chance to live their lives with them and
appreciate their problems.
"Mac's" company and regiment conducted
themselves in such a manner in combat as to be awarded a Presidential
citation for "extraordinary heroism and achievements" and in the
sacrifice of his life "Mac" endowed a heritage that shall endure forever
ands be praised wherever people congregate. I am enclosing the
ribbon emblematic of the award that is "Mac's".
Our chaplain at the present is Capt.
James L. Elder and I know he would appreciate being of any assistance.
- 2 -
I have an Aunt and Uncle, Mr. and Mrs.
Seymour Brown who live at 1609 South 15th Street and should the
opportunity present itself to you I feel certain that a visit with them
will illuminate my words here and assure you of the sincerity with which
I write They both knew "Mac".
If I can be of further aid to you please
do not hesitate to contact me.
(signed) Robt. Abraham
Pennsylvania Department of Military Affairs Burial
for William T. McKnight
Application For Headstone Or Marker
for William T. McKnight contains two unfortunate discrepancies.
When his sister Myrtle (nee McKnight)
Cook filled out the form she entered the month and day of his birth
correctly but penned in the year as 1930 rather than 1921. That
error implied that William was only 14 at the time of his death.
In addition, the date of death is shown
as June 11th which was initially reported in a June Morning Report.
However, a September entry corrected it to be June 8th.
Both the date of birth and date of
death were entered correctly on the burial record which presumably
pre-dates the application. Why they were not compared during the record processing is unknown.
Both dates were faithfully reproduced as shown on the
application (see inset, below).
(courtesy of Ken Smith)
Grave marker for Pfc William T. McKnight in Section K,
Range 7, Lot 3, Grave W. L of the Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia
(Philadelphia county), Pennsylvania.
William enlisted in the Army at Philadelphia, PA on 10
Pfc McKnight was a member of Hq Hq when he was killed
in action on 8 June 1944. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the
Combat Infantryman Badge, both posthumously.
Note: We pointed these date
discrepancies out to the President of Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery
in an attempt to have the dates rectified. After some investigation, he
reported that since the error was made by the relative, it would take a
request by the family to correct the stone.