Agnew, John, PFC

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
8 kb
View Time Line
Last Rank
Private First Class
Last Primary MOS
745-Rifleman
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1943-1945, 745, RHHC, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) 101st Airborne Division
Service Years
1943 - 1945
Private First Class



Two Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

31 kb

Home State
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
Year of Birth
1922
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ Mark E Cooper to remember Agnew, John, Pfc.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Huntingdon Valley

Date of Passing
Apr 10, 2010
 
Location of Interment
Forest Hills Memorial Park - Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Honorably Discharged WW II 101st Airbone Division


 Unofficial Badges 






 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Member of Unit Linked to 'Dirty Dozen' Dies in Pennsylvania

AP

 John "Jack" Agnew belonged to the Filthy Thirteen, an unofficial unit within the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, that parachuted into France to take a bridge over the Douve River during World War II.

PHILADELPHIA -- John "Jack" Agnew, one of the original members of a U.S. Army unit that operated behind enemy lines in World War II and is often credited with having loosely inspired the movie "The Dirty Dozen," has died at age 88.

Agnew belonged to the Filthy Thirteen, an unofficial unit within the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was pronounced dead Thursday at Abington Memorial Hospital after becoming ill at his home in the Maple Village retirement community in Hatboro, where he and his wife moved about a year ago, his daughter Barbara Agnew Maloney said.

On D-Day, the Filthy Thirteen parachuted into France to take a bridge over the Douve River. It was "a mission that would cost most of the men their lives," according to an article in the winter 2008-09 edition of American Valour Quarterly, a publication of the nonprofit American Veterans Center.

Before the Battle of the Bulge, Agnew and other members of the unit were requested for pathfinder duty and parachuted into Bastogne, which was besieged by German forces. Agnew operated a beacon to help guide in planes carrying badly needed supplies.

Tales of the unit's exploits and a Stars and Stripes military newspaper photograph are said to have inspired "The Dirty Dozen," not because any of the unit's members were convicts like the movie's characters -- they weren't -- but because of their reputation for brawling, drinking and spending time in the stockade.

In interviews, Agnew, a private first class, said that came directly from the unit's leader, Jake McNiece.

"We weren't murderers or anything, we just didn't do everything we were supposed to do in some ways and did a whole lot more than they wanted us to do in other ways," he told the quarterly. "We were always in trouble."

Agnew was among those interviewed in a documentary, "The Filthy Thirteen: Real Stories from Behind the Lines," that was included in a 2006 special edition DVD of "The Dirty Dozen."

The 1967 movie, about an Army major who has to train and lead 12 convicts into a mission targeting German officers, starred Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and Jim Brown.

Maloney said her father told her about 30 percent of the movie was true.

"And, actually, the scene where they captured the officers, Dad said that was true and he really coordinated that," she said Sunday.

Two months ago, Maloney said, she accompanied her father to a military history convention in Louisville, Ky., where she met with three of the four surviving Filthy Thirteen members and three members of Easy Company, which was the focus of the HBO series "Band of Brothers".
"Dad, when we were little kids, he'd always say, 'I won the war; I know you don't believe me, but someday you'll know,'" she said. "We didn't really realize it until the 'Band of Brothers' came out."

Agnew will be buried with full military honors Tuesday at Forest Hills Cemetery in Huntingdon Valley, in the Philadelphia suburbs, where he and his wife, Elizabeth Agnew, lived for 56 years, Maloney said.


Book Description - "The Filthy Thirteen"


Since World War II, the American public has become fully aware of the exploits of the 101st Airborne Division, the paratroopers who led the Allied invasions into Nazi-held Europe. But within the ranks of the 101st, a subunit attained legendary status at the time, its reputation persisting among veterans over the decades. Primarily products of the Dustbowl and the Depression, the Filthy13 grew notorious, even within the ranks of the elite 101st. Never ones to salute an officer, or take a bath, this squad became singular within the Screaming Eagles for its hard drinking, and savage fighting skill and that was only in training. Just prior to the invasion of Normandy, a "Stars and Stripes" photographer caught U.S. paratroopers with heads shaved into Mohawks, applying war paint to their faces. Unknown to the American public at the time, these men were the Filthy 13. After parachuting behind enemy lines in the dark hours before D-Day, the Germans got a taste of the reckless courage of this unit except now the men were fighting with Tommy guns and explosives, not just bare knuckles. In its spearhead role, the 13 suffered heavy casualties, some men wounded and others blown to bits. By the end of the war 30 men had passed through the squad. Throughout the war, however, the heart and soul of the Filthy 13 remained a survivor named Jake McNiece, a half-breed Indian from Oklahoma the toughest man in the squad and the one who formed its character. McNiece made four combat jumps, was in the forefront of every fight in northern Europe, yet somehow never made the rank of PFC. The survivors of the Filthy 13 stayed intact as a unit until the Allies finally conquered Nazi Germany. The book does not draw a new portrait of earnest citizen soldiers. Instead it describes a group of hardscrabble guys whom any respectable person would be loath to meet in a bar or dark alley. But they were an integral part of the U.S. war against Nazi Germany. A brawling bunch of no-good niks whose only saving grace was that they inflicted more damage on the Germans than on MPs, the English countryside and their own officers, the Filthy 13 remain a legend within the ranks of the 101st Airborne.

 

Members of the Filthy Thirteeen

Jake McNiece, Jack Womer, John Agnew, Lt. Charles Mellen, Joseph Oleskiewicz, John Hale, James T. Green, George Radeka, Clarence Ware, Robert S. Cone, Roland R. Baribeau, James E. Leach and Andrew Rassmussen. Others including Frank Palys and Charles Plaudo were sometimes members of the group.
   
Other Comments:

Jack Agnew was one of the original members of the "Filthy 13," the 506th Parachute Regiment's demolition section. Famed for their Mohawk haircuts, rebelliousness, and crack fighting ability, the Filthy 13 became the inspiration for Hollywood's "Dirty Dozen." Before the Battle of the Bulge, members of the Filthy 13 were requested for pathfinder duty; Jack Agnew was among the volunteers.

A pathfinder's job was to parachute into a drop zone prior to the main force, whereby he would set up radio beacons and brightly colored panels to guide-in a force of C-47s laden with paratroopers or supplies.

When the Germans encircled the town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, Agnew and other pathfinders jumped into the beleaguered city. Climbing atop a brick pile within the Bastogne perimeter, Agnew secured his spot in history's spotlight when he operated a beacon to guide-in the first wave of C-47s that dropped parapacks containing desperately needed supplies for the Screaming Eagles.
 

   
 Photo Album   (More...



Ardennes Alsace Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of the Bulge
Start Year
1944
End Year
1945

Description
The Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe. Hitler planned the offensive with the primary goal to recapture the important harbour of Antwerp. The surprise attack caught the Allied forces completely off guard. United States forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred the highest casualties for any operation during the war. The battle also severely depleted Germany's war-making resources.

The battle was known by different names. The Germans referred to it as Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein ("Operation Watch on the Rhine"), while the French named it the Bataille des Ardennes ("Battle of the Ardennes"). The Allies called it the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The phrase "Battle of the Bulge" was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the best known name for the battle.

The German offensive was supported by several subordinate operations known as Unternehmen Bodenplatte, Greif, and Währung. As well as stopping Allied transport over the channel to the harbor of Antwerp, Germany also hoped these operations would split the British and American Allied line in half, and then proceed to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers' favor. Once that was accomplished, Hitler could fully concentrate on the eastern theatre of war.

The offensive was planned by the German forces with the utmost secrecy, minimizing radio traffic and moving troops and equipment under cover of darkness. Despite their efforts to keep it secret, the Third U.S. Army's intelligence staff predicted a major German offensive, and Ultra indicated that a "substantial and offensive" operation was expected or "in the wind", although a precise date or point of attack could not be given. Aircraft movement from the Russian Front and transport of forces by rail, both to the Ardennes, was noticed but not acted upon, according to a report later written by Peter Calvocoressi and F. L. Lucas at the codebreaking centre Bletchley Park.

Near-complete surprise was achieved by a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance. The Germans attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions, which grounded the Allies' overwhelmingly superior air forces. Fierce resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive around Elsenborn Ridge and in the south around Bastogne blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success; columns that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads. This and terrain that favored the defenders threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops. Improved weather conditions permitted air attacks on German forces and supply lines, which sealed the failure of the offensive. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment, as survivors retreated to the defenses of the Siegfried Line.

About 610,000 American forces were involved in the battle,[2] and 89,000 were casualties, including 19,000 killed. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1944
To Year
1945
 
Last Updated:
12 days ago
   
Personal Memories
   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  360 Also There at This Battle:
  • Accattato, Rocco, PFC, (1943-1945)
  • Adams, Herbert, Pvt, (1941-1945)
  • Arther, Edward, PFC, (1944-1945)
  • Bahlau, Frederick Arthur, 1LT, (1942-1945)
  • Beck, Carl, M/Sgt, (1942-1963)
  • Belan, Elmer, T/5, (1943-1948)
  • Bizefski, Joseph Paul, Pvt, (1943-1944)
  • Boehme, Karen
  • Bolio, Robert, Cpl, (1943-1945)
  • Bouck, Lyle Joseph, 1LT, (1940-1945)
  • Brenzel, Frank, T/4, (1944-1946)
  • Burch, Gilbert, T/5, (1944-1946)
  • Burford, Chris
  • Burns, Henry, PFC, (1941-1944)
  • Bush, William Douglas, 1LT, (1942-1951)
  • Carey, Aaron, PFC, (1942-1945)
  • Carlson, Martin, T/5, (1943-1944)
  • Carmer, Richard, T/Sgt, (1943-1946)
  • Chase, George, Sgt, (1943-1945)
  • Clemente, Frank, MAJ, (1942-1945)
  • Cole, Chauncey David, LTC, (1938-1960)
  • Costanzo, Anthony, PFC, (1942-1945)
  • Dallas, Frank J., LTC, (1942-1970)
  • Davol, Rupert
  • Deitz, Wallace, MSG, (1944-1968)
  • Derasmo, Anthony, PFC, (1943-1946)
  • Dobozy Jr, Steve, PFC, (1943-1945)
Copyright Togetherweserved.com Inc 2003-2011