By Marie Wyman
NORTHBORO — The Vincent
Picard Post 234 recently selected Northboro resident Irving T. Shanley
as Legionnaire of the Year for 2004.
Shanley was a paratrooper who participated in the invasions of
Normandy, France on , June 6, 1944 and at Nijmegen, Holland, Sept. 17,
He is a modest man who would rather speak about his project of
writing biographies of men in his company, the 508th Parachute Infantry
Regiment than talk about him-
"I was asked by the company commander, Capt.
Chester Graham, to write as many biographies as I could for an upcoming
reunion at Camp Blanding in Starke, Fla. in October. At that time, the
biographies ...and other memorabilia and the regimental colors of the
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, will be retired," Shanley said. "This
will be our final reunion."
According to Shanley, officers in the 508th Parachute Infantry
Regiment Association encouraged their men to write and share their
stories at a 1975 reunion held in Chicago where 400 to 500 veterans and
family members participated.
"I got involved with the research several
years ago and in the course of putting together the biographies for the
next reunion found out some interesting things," Shanley said.
For instance, Shanley would learn that a Northboro man, Capt.
Francis Ernest Flanders, from his paratrooper regiment, was killed while
he was a prisoner in Germany.
"I wrote to his company commander, who was living in California,
and he sent me back a lot of information as to what really happened to
■ Continued on page 10
■ from page 1
tain Flanders," Shanley said.
Flanders, a 1938 graduate of Northboro High School, was captured by
the Germans and put into a prisoner of war camp. He subsequently died
when the German convoy, he, and other captured prisoners were traveling
in, was attacked by Allied P-47 airplanes.
During his research other facts would surface for Shanley.
"I found out while gathering
information for the biographies that a World War I veteran, from
Northboro, Vincent F. Picard (for whom the American Legion Post 234 is
named), was also part of the same 82nd Infantry Division that the famous
Sgt. Alvin Yorke [sic] came from.
Marksmen Yorke captured 132 Germans, killed 20 and captured
numerous machine guns," Shanley said.
After World War I the 82nd Infantry Division went inactive, but was
reactivated during World War II as the 82nd
Airborne, which was Shanley's division.
Shanley said that being chosen as Legionnaire of the Year was a total
"I had no idea," he said. "I think that there were many more
deserving people than me, but I am very grateful and proud to receive
Florence Shanley, his wife of nearly 56 years, said she was very proud
of her husband.
"I've always been proud of him. I knew about it (the award)
beforehand, but it was hard to keep quiet; it's hard to keep a secret,"
Irving Shanley retired from military service in 1969 as a Lt. Col.
after more than 26 years active service. He served for 14 years In the
infantry and 12 years in the adjutant general's corps.
Shanley received the Le-gionnaire of the year award at a ceremony held
Day at the Howard Street Cemetery.
"It was a wonderful award to receive," Shanley said, "but we were
there at the cemetery to pay tribute to all our fallen comrades. Those
fellow soldiers that paid the supreme sacrifice."