Photo of Company B, 231st Infantry Training Battalion, Camp Blanding, Florida.

Company B, 231st Infantry Training Battalion

Camp Blanding, Starke, Florida

Camp Blanding Museum

*John A. Praninskas, New York, N.Y.
Cpl. C. C. Kriner, Columbia, Pa.
Stephen Janasik, Berwick, Pa.
*Joseph J. Goetz, Elkhart, Ind.
Felix J. Kuzma, Kalamazoo, Mi.
Jack McAneney, New York, N.Y.
E. M. Hassler, Lansing, Mi.
Lyle J. Black, Michigan City, Ind.
Joseph H. Thibodeau, Detroit, Mi.
Walter E. Armour, Bromley, Ky.
*Matthew G. Reynolds, Detroit, Mi.
Vester P. Thacker, Detroit, Mi.
1st Sgt. Frank Bekelja, Stellton, Pa.
James A. K. MacQueen, Chicago, Ill.
Arthur Carr, Detroit, Mi.
Arthur Wold, Chicago, Ill.
Jos. J. Zappia, Chicago, Ill.
Gilbert Higgs, Richmond, Ind.
Ed. M. Mascharka, Erie, Pa.
Fred O. Williams, Berwick, Pa.
*Kline Griggs, Meadville, Pa.
*Thomas D. Curry, Meadville, Pa.
Theo. Hershberger, Everett, Pa.
Thos. Houser, Summit, Pa.
Jay K. Smith, Washington, D. C.
Alfred R. Orlando, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ralph Forry, Harrisburg, Pa.
Nicholas Wislocki, Old Forge, Pa.
David W. Taylor, Thornton, Pa.
O. Paul Wilday, Glen Mills, Pa.
Fred E. Kendall, Kokomo, Ind.
Rudolph J. Mikula, Chester, Pa.
Richard Granit, Philadelphia, Pa.
W. H. Clemons, Charleston, W. Va.
Paul Glazer, Lakewood, N. J.
Melvin Hukse, Spring Lake, N. J.
John Untch, Chicago, Ill.
Robert R. May, Camden, Tenn.
James Micheilsen, Holland, Mi.
Kieth Bauman, Beloit, Wis.
Harold Schildgen, Chicago, Ill.
Ernest Vuyisteke, Detroit, Mi.
John L Walter, New Berlin, Ill.
Ernest C. Colardeau, Richmond, Va.
Wm. H. McGinty, Larned, Kans.
Leighton P. Zenge, Canton, Mo.
T/Sgt. P. E. Rhodes, Pretoria, South Africa
Cpl. W. V. Quigley, Stamford, Conn.
T/5 Louis A. Jones, Durham, N. C.
Arthur Dujardin, Chicago, Ill.
Root P. Reck, Chicago, Ill.
Paul H. Campbell, Decatur, Ill.
Ashley K. Beethan, Detroit, Mi.
Andrew A. Bush, Reading, Pa.
Edward McDonald, Cincinnati, Ohio
Kenneth Evans, Baltimore, Md.
Wilbur H. McFadden, Elkhart, Ind.

*Soldiers with an asterisk in front of their name were killed in action. Much of this information was determined from the American Battle Monuments Commission search engine, which lists only those buried in U.S. Military Cemeteries. So there are undoubtedly others in this photograph who did not make through to the end of the war.

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)
Sgt. Modovitch
Sgt. Rhoades
Swank (name has star beside it)
McFadden (written as MacFadden on one version of picture)

2nd Row
Corp. Kriner
Hassler (name has star beside it, hut mate)
Black (name has star beside it, hut mate)
MacGinty ( or McGinty on one version)
Corp. Duma

3rd Row
Corp. Dunn
Corp. Bilbrey McKula (or Mikula on one version)
McQueen (1st squad)
Lt. Martin
Lt. Coleman
Capt. Kohls
Lt. Praninskas
Lt. Serbu
Sgt. Bakalja
Curry (1st squad)
Krug (1st)
MacDonald (1st squad)

4th Row
Corp. Quigly
Thacker (name has star beside it, hut mate)
Rick (or Reck)
Corp. Zimmer

5th Row
Thibideau (name has star beside it, hut mate)
Du Jardin
Sgt. Nunnery

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