1st Lt. John A. Praninskas, 328 Infantry, 26th Division. Praninskas was killed in action on November 13, 1944 during the November offensive against the West Wall near Metz. He is buried at Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France. The 26th was a new division with XII Corps of Patton's Third Army. Born on a farm in Laona, Wisconsin, Praninskas had a sister and two brothers. When their mother died, John and his brothers remained on the farm, but his sister was adopted by a family in Chicago.
Joseph J. Goetz, 9th Infantry, 2nd Division. KIA 8 Oct. 1944.
Matthew G. Reynolds, 358th Infantry, 90th Division. KIA 16 Mar. 1945
Kline Griggs, 9th Infantry, 2nd Division. KIA 3 Feb. 1945
Thomas D. Curry, 331st Infantry, 83rd Division. KIA 10 Dec. 1944
Update, November 2007: We were recently contacted by Rolland Swank whose father, Ray J. Swank, was also in Company B, 231st Training Battalion at Camp Blanding. According to Rolland, his father is seated in the first row, third from the left in the picture above. His father kept a complete day-to-day diary of the training at Camp Blanding. This information includes sketches of tanks, gun parts, etc. The last page of the last notebook contains a list of the members of the 1st Squad: Swank, Squad Leader; Curry, Assistant Squad Leader; Wilday; Beethan, BAR man 3; McFadden, BAR man 1; Zinge, BAR man 2; Glazer; Untch, Scout; Krug; McDonald; MacQueen, Messenger-get away man; Walter; Coiardeau; Bush; Hershberger, Scout.
Rolland has searched the Draft Registration database and has been able to find a lot of the men listed in the photograph. He says that most of the men were drafted in early October, 1943, and most had civilian occupations related to working with their hands--carpenters, mechanics, etc. The data base also provides a tentative identification of Krug as being Edward W. Krug, a miner from Columbia County, PA.Rolland says that "The Blanding picture shows 71 people, and I believe that the five men in the middle of the picture can be identified. The man in the center with the Captain's Bars on his hat is probably Bernard J. Kohls who was the Battalion Commander. The other four men are the Lieutenants of the four (?) Companies. I don't know which is which, but they all seem to have single bars on their caps: Forest H. Coleman; R. J. Serber; George M Martin; and John A. Praninskas. All four of the lieutenants were also instructors for various skills taught to company B and are mentioned at various places in my Dad's diary. He also received a Christmas card from 'the officers,' and all five of them signed it. If we add to the five officers above the six men in the picture with strips on their sleeves (two in the first row on the left end, the man standing on the left holding the flag and the three standing on the right) we get 11 people. At one point in my Dad's diary when he first got to the barracks, he says that it looks like there would be 60 trainees in Company B, so that would appear to account for the 71 people pictured."
Update, February 2008: Rolland has provided a complete list of the names in the Camp Blanding photo. According to Rolland, the spellings may not be correct. He has two versions of the same picture with names on the back, and some names are spelled differently on the two pictures. Rolland's list is more complete than the list on the photo that I have (above). According to Rolland, "It looks like he tried to identify his hut members (there were five in a hut) with stars and some of the members of the 1st squad. Since we know the 15 members of the 1st squad from his notebook, he certainly didn't label all of them."1st Row (Seated)