It was a common practice, soldiers serving together would often obtain a captured flag and add their names and
hometowns somewhere on the flag. In Western Europe, this practice happened many times throughout the war,
with soldiers often using the white circular center of a German flag to make their mark. The flag became a souvenir,
a reminder of who they served with, which soldiers were there when the flag was captured, and a display of who
had made it that far.
In my private collection I have two such flags and hope to add a few more. Although not terribly uncommon, these
flags become interesting research projects, and a silent testimonial to the brave men who captured these items,
and took the time to write down their names and home towns, so the moment would always be remembered.
The intent of this page is to display those flags, show the names of the men who signed them, and preserve them
as a memorial to these brave men who sacrificed and risked their lives to take these flags from their German
counterparts. Exactly how or where they were captured may never be known, but it's worth detailing the names on
these items and remembering their service to our country, far away in Western Europe.
If anyone knows any of the men who signed their names to these flags, I would be honored to display their photo
(preferably a wartime photo) to put a face to the name, to help tell their story.
C.E. Daniel Collection
|4th Infantry Division, 22nd Infantry Regiment,
"The Thumpin' Third"
The flag itself isn't very large, or very imposing, measuring just 23 inches wide and 15 inches high, but the men who once carried
it as a national emblem certainly could put fear in the hearts of any opposing force. It is not known where or how it was captured,
but we do know some of the men who were there when it was captured. 9 men signed this flag, 8 of them giving their name and
hometown with one signing only his nickname and home town.
One entry on the flag reads: "The Thumpin' Third Bn., HQ Com, 3rd Bn., 22nd Infantry." The following names are signed to the flag:
1) Charles M. Nastro, Brooklyn, New York
2) George Ertler, Cleveland, Ohio
3) B.E. Kassabaum, Granville, Illinois
4) Andrew Timo, Braddock, Pennsylvania
5) Moe Larkin, New Phila, Ohio
6) C.B. Ross, Brazil, Indiana
7) Al Isaacson, Brooklyn, New York
8) Newton D. Zinn, Alexandria, Kentucky
9) "Smittie", Superior, Nebraska
The reverse of the flag, bearing just one signature: "Charles M. Nastro, Brooklyn, New York."
This particular flag is rather small in size, having a channel sewn to one end allowing it to hang downwards, with two separately
applied center sections, each sewn into place. The remaining material of the flag is a thin, lightweight material, showing very little
damage and remaining in good condition. Given its construction, it was certainly a small banner meant for indoor use. Given the
wartime record of the men in the 22nd Infantry regiment, and the number of battles they were involved in, it is difficult to guess
where the flag may have been captured from. From a bunker, from the home of a proud German or from an office in some small
town, the answer may never be known. The men who signed this small flag certainly paid a terrific price in liberating it.
Albert Isaacson, HQ/3-22 WWII, wrote: On or about July 12, 1944, I joined HQ/3-22, about two weeks before the Normandy
breakout at St. Lo. Ernie Quast, from Burlington, WI, and I were assigned to the message center section of the communications
platoon. On or about September 11, 1944, as we were nearing the Siegfried Line defenses which no one had seen up close, the
order came down to probe the German line to see where and how well it was defended. This “patrol in force” consisted of two
tank destroyers, two half tracks, and several jeeps including my platoon’s radio jeep which I was asked to ride on should we need
additional firepower. We had about 30 to 35 men.
Along the way, we came across several roadblocks that had to be destroyed. There was a brief firefight at each point. One
round from a tank destroyer usually stopped the action. We eventually arrived at a group of houses alongside the dirt road we
were on. Across the road from these houses was a field that stretched perhaps 200 yards or so to a tree line. Scattered about in
the field were several farm houses that could have been built over concrete bunkers with gun ports as basement windows. Our
mission was to locate the pillboxes concealed in the woods, to discover if these buildings were what they seemed to be, and to
locate the mine fields. When this was done, we turned back and had one brief firefight with shots being fired from a barn some
distance off the road. No damage was done.
The main body of our troops, supported by armor, assaulted the pillboxes on September 14. I and about seven or eight from our
message center took shelter in a barn as the incoming shells whistled overhead. My jeep driver asked me to hold his pistol
(which was in a German holster and belt) while he ducked across the alleyway to the farmhouse where our radio section had set
up. My corporal came running into the barn yelling excitedly to get ready, “The Germans are attacking!” One of the men told me
to get rid of the German belt and holster because he heard that if we were captured with German equipment we would be shot on
To be prepared for the worst, I hid the belt and holster under the straw, then worked the slide on the .45 and left it cocked and
stuck in under my belt over my right thigh. One of the incoming rounds struck the farmhouse and I and the others crouched low
against the barn wall, making ourselves as small as possible. At that point, I heard a loud “pop” and what I smelled made me
realize that the pistol had discharged. I searched for a wound but although the round had gone through both inside thigh pant legs
(fatigues and ODs), it did not touch my long johns. The shell that hit the farmhouse wounded a couple of the radio men and blew
my jeep driver down the basement stairs, rupturing his ear drums. I never saw him again after that. From that day until the end
of the war, I was our motor messenger. Found on: www.22ndinfantry.org
|C Company, 7th Infantry Battalion,
8th Armored Division
This second German flag is signed by 15members of C Company, 7th Infantry Battalion, 8th
Armored Division. This flag was obtained directly from one of the signers. Unfortunately, the
origin of the flag, where it was captured, or the circumstances surrounding its capture have
long been forgotten. This German flag measures 30 inches by 17.5 inches and is made of a
heavier cloth than the above flag. Like the flag above, this flag has a channel sewn to one end
allowing it to hang downwards, with two separately applied center sections, each sewn into
place and individual national emblems sewn to each side. Other than minor soiling and normal
wear, the flag remains in very good condition.
This following names are signed to the flag:
1) Pfc. Robert Mott
2) Pfc. Julian Apsel
3) Pfc. Jimmie L. Hogg (Bronze Star)
4) Pfc. Michael Ostaffy (Bronze Star)
5) Pfc. Alvin E. Kerr
6) S/Sgt. Thomas Adamchick
7) Pfc. Charles Burgert
8) Pfc. Raymond Nelson
9) S/Sgt. Charles Gorna (Silver Star)
signed - "Blood and Guts Gorna"
10) T/Sgt. Emmett Segrue (Silver Star)
11) Pfc. Oscar B. Call
12) T/5 Vincent Spina (Bronze Star)
13) Ira "Calvin" Boyd
14) Pfc. Dwight Helfenstein (Purple Heart)
KIA April 7th, 1945
15) 1st. Lt. Cecil M. Lane (Silver Star/Purple Heart)
KIA April 5th, 1945
As indicated in the listing of the soldiers above, the flag is signed by three soldiers who were awarded
the Silver Star, three soldiers who were awarded the Bronze Star, and two men who did not survive the
war. The following are the official citations for the award of the Silver Star to each recipient:
- The Silver Star is presented to Cecil M. Lane (0-1317407), First Lieutenant (Infantry), U.S. Army, for
gallantry in action against the enemy while serving with Company C, 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th
Armored Division, in Germany on 4 April 1945. Lieutenant Lane displayed outstanding leadership in
organizing his company for the attack on an important enemy-held town. Leading his ground elements and
coordinating the movement and fire of supporting tanks, his personal actions were largely responsible for
the success of the operation. While directing the attack against a wooded area which concealed five anti-
aircraft guns holding up the attack, Lieutenant Lane was mortally wounded. His bold leadership and
outstanding bravery were an inspiration to the men of his command and reflect the highest traditions of the
Armed Forces. (Posthumously awarded.)
- The Silver Star is presented to Emmett J. Segrue (20900518), Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, for
gallantry in action against the enemy while serving with Company C, 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th
Armored Division, in Germany on 28 March 1945. Sergeant Segrue led a squad into enemy territory under
heavy artillery and mortar fire, locating a bridge suitable for use of troops and vehicles. When enemy action
destroyed this bridge, he volunteered to lead another patrol and succeeded in locating an alternate
crossing. Later the same day Sergeant Segrue led a squad across the new crossing, securing a bridgehead
on the other side. During the day he also saved two vehicles by driving them out of danger when a vehicle
loaded with ammunition was set afire by artillery. Later he assisted in evacuation of three wounded from a
tank which had been hit by direct artillery fire. His actions were carried out without regard for his own safety
and reflect great credit on himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.
- The Silver Star is presented to Charles W. Gorna (33440810), Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, for gallantry in
action against the enemy while serving with Company C, 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored
Division, in Germany on 1 March 1945. Sergeant Gorna, while exploring a mined path, encountered an
armed enemy guard. Forcing the guard to surrender he captured eleven other enemy soldiers who were
hiding in a nearby dugout. Later he volunteered to guard the vehicle to which he was assigned while the
remainder of the squad took cover from sniper fire in a nearby house. Relieved of his guard duties, he went
in search of the sniper, found him, and took him prisoner. Sergeant Gorna's actions are in keeping with the
highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Pfc. Julian Apsel
|1944 published booklet about
the 8th Armored Division -
"The Thundering Herd".
|John J. Bevec
Hometown: Johnstown, PA
Right: items which I obtained from the esatete of John
J. Bevec. Mr. Bevec proudly served his country during
the war. Shown is a small German flag he and his fellow
soldiers captured, along with numerous technical manuals
relating to light tank operations. All of these items are
part of my permanent collection.
| The photographs of the men above we obtained through the kindness of Michael Belis, 22nd Infantry Regiment Society Historian. The
photos were scanned from the 1946 yearbook for the 22nd Infantry Regiment. A very kind thank you to Mr. Belis for helping me to put faces to
the signatures on the flag. Please visit www.1-22infantry.org for additional information related to the 22nd Infantry Regiment.