My Father’s World War II Photos

18Feb10

Gun Section No. 5 I’ve been thinking about World War II a lot lately. I guess it’s a combination of things. Certainly the ongoing effort to raise the funds to replace the crumbling World War II Monument in my hometown of Wakefield, Massachusetts has served as a consistent reminder.

The new granite memorial will be built on the same site as the current monument on the Upper Common. That wooden memorial, built in 1946, is now badly decayed, but the new granite monument will closely follow the design of the original. The new memorial will bear the names of all 2,466 Wakefield veterans who served during the war, with a central space reserved to honor the 71 who lost their lives in the war.
World War II Memorial

My father, Stephen, and his brother, Joseph (Puck) Sardella are among the Wakefield citizens who served their country in World War II. Their names are on the current monument and will be on the new monument. Both served in the Pacific during the war, my father as an Army sergeant, and my uncle as a Navy Corpsman attached to a Marine division.

Last year, I sat down to interview my then 93 year-old former 8th grade teacher, Russell Nelson, also a veteran of World War II combat in the Pacific. I realized from listening to Mr. Nelson’s war stories that he and my father were likely on the Pacific island of Ie Shima at the same time. They later got to know each other while living in Wakefield after the war. Although they were not close friends and had little in common, I always sensed a bond of mutual respect between them that I didn’t fully understand until very recently.
At Ie Shima
Around the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day last December 7, I pulled out my father’s old album of war photographs. I was simultaneously struck by how young the men in these photos were, and by the fact that most of them are gone now.

Most of the photos are undated and don’t give an exact location. But on a few, my father did write the date and the place. Nearly all of the photos appear to have been taken on the islands of Ie Shima and Guam. In one photo, my father and two of his buddies are standing shirtless next to a muddy road with deep tire ruts. Palm trees and huts can be seen in the distant background. “Another dark day,” are the words written on the back of this photo. I suspect that it wasn’t a comment on the weather.

Another photo shows my father and two other guys sitting on a flatbed trailer that appears to be loaded with bombs. “Joe, Ted and I on the airfield taking a break,” my father wrote on the back.
"Joe," Ted Storm, Steve Sardella
Unfortunately, he didn’t identify many of the people in the photos, and when he did, it was by first name only. I suppose he figured that he knew who they were and would never forget their names. I happen to know that Ted was Ted Storm, because he lived in New Hampshire and my father maintained contact with him for years after the war. “Joe” may have been Joe Perrone.

I decided to post some of my father’s war photos online. I’d like to think that someday – tomorrow or years from now – someone will be casually surfing the Internet and suddenly come face to face with his father or grandfather staring back at him from 65 years ago, on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

World War II photos from the album of Stephen M. Sardella of Wakefield, Massachusetts. Click on smaller images to see full size.

[This column originally appeared in the February 18, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “My Father’s World War II Photos”

  1. 1 Paul C. Ellis

    I am doing my grandpa’s war history for our family. He was stationed on Ie Shima at the end of the war. He was a pilot that flew VIPs around. Did your father work on the flight line? I am always looking for better picture of these two old striped down B-25s he said he flew. One was green the other silver named “Fast Lady”. I have all of his photos from Ie Shima. Few of his photos have any names on the back. Please contact me if you would like to see if I have anything of interest.


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