Memorial Day 2013: A Story Worth Telling

george a nemeth

George A. Nemeth Jr. is shown in this family photograph from 1943. The true circumstances surrounding his death aboard the SS Paul Hamilton on April 20, 1944, had been a mystery for 50 years.

Submitted photo
Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 06:13 PM.

I had always heard the story — not so much a story as much as a line of information — that my mother’s uncle, my great uncle, died during World War II.

It’s not so dissimilar from other families. After all, more than 400,000 Americans died fighting for this country during that war.

But what is different is the story surrounding the death of Cpl. George Andrew Nemeth Jr. was not known to us — and actually not known to the world for 50 years. All my mother knew was that he was on a ship that was bombed. That was the information. With Memorial Day approaching, the time seems right to learn the story.

The Beginning

When World War II started, George Andrew Nemeth Jr. was 16 years old and in the ninth grade. According to 1940 census records, he was born in the United States to immigrants from Hungary and lived in a mostly Hungarian neighborhood on Sherwood Road in Cleveland, Ohio.

He was the youngest son of George Nemeth, a worker in a steel mill, and his wife Barbara. His older brother, Edward, my grandfather, was 30 years old, married and living in the same house. He had two young daughters, Dorothy and Mary Lou, my aunts. My mother had not yet entered the picture, coming along in October of 1943. She never had the chance to know her uncle.

At some point in 1943, George Andrew Nemeth Jr. entered the U.S. Army Air Corps. Documents show he completed a course for aircraft welders at U.S. Army Air Forces Technical School on July 6, 1943, in Illinois.

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