Brookline War Memorial
John Mazza

Sgt. John Mazza
United States Army Air Corps (1943-1944)

United States Army Air Services (1917-1947)

John Mazza was born on April 27, 1916, in Calabria, Italy, to parents Domenic and Mary C. Mazza. He was the oldest of five children. John had two sisters, Anita and Alberta, and two brothers, Frank and Sylvester. The Mazza family emigrated to the United States and settled in Brookline at 2401 Alwyn Street.

A graduate of the Connelly Trade School, John was employed by Jerome Wolf and Brothers when he enlisted in the Army on December 4, 1942. After basic training he joined the Army Air Corps and was assigned to a ten member B-17 Flying Fortress crew as a Ball Turret Gunner. After operational training his crew received their B-17G #42-97444.

John Mazza

Sgt. John Mazza's crew consisted of Pilot 2nd Lt. Joseph Csupak, Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Jack B. Kirkpatrick, Navigator 2nd Lt. Clyde Stats, Bombardier 2nd Lt. Armond E. D'Abbracci, Radio Operator S/Sgt. Robert L. Robbins, Engineer T/Sgt. Homer A. Maddin, Right Waist Gunner S/Sgt. Wayne A. Pearce, Left Waist Gunner Sgt. James A. Shanahan and Tail Gunner Sgt. Fred Taylor.

In December 1943, the crew flew to the East Coast, then to West Palm Beach. Another flight to Brazil was followed by a trans-Atlantic flight to Africa. After a brief layover, the crew flew on to their permanent base at Amandola Airfield, near Foggia, Italy. John Mazza found himself back in the land of his birth, but there was no time for a homecoming celebration.

Once in Italy, Sgt. Mazza's crew was assigned as a replacement in the 340th Bombardment Squadron, 97th Bombardment Group of the U.S. 15th Air Force. The Squadron mostly flew missions to attack strategic targets in southern Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and the Balkans. There were also tactical missions to support the Allied push up the Italian mainland.

                 

On February 11, 1944, Sgt. John Mazza and his B-17 crew members took off on a tactical bombing strike against German troop concentrations and defensive positions in support of the Allied beachhead at Anzio, Italy. On the way to the designated target the plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The aircraft was structurally crippled and was going to fall from the sky.

The crew was immediately given the command to bail out. Only one parachute was seen by other aircraft before Mazza's plane exploded in mid-air. Due to the chaos and intensity of the flak concentration, it was impossible for others in the squadron to positively identify the airman who safely evacuated the plane.

B17s of the 340th Bomb Squadron
B-17 Flying Fortrsses from the 340th Bombardment Squadron fly in formation toward a target.

Brookline's Sgt. John Mazza and the rest of the ten member crew were all listed as Missing in Action. Notice was sent to all of the next of kin. The Mazza family held out hope that their son John was being held as a Prisoner of War and would return some day. However, as time went on and no word came from the Red Cross, these hopes began to diminish.

It was later learned that the lone survivor of doomed aircraft, the airman seen bailing out, was Flight Engineer Homer A. Maddin. He became a Prisoner of War of the German Army and was first held at the POW Camp Stalag Luft 3, Sagan, Silesia, Bavaria. He was later moved to Nuremberg, Langwasser, 49-11 where he was released at war's end.

Finally, in August of 1945, the Mazza family received word that the status of Sgt. John Mazza, a recipient of the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters and the Purple Heart, had been changed from Missing in Action to Presumed Dead (Killed in Action). A short obituary was posted in the Pittsburgh Press on August 31.

The war was over and still the community of Brookline was learning of young men from the neighborhood that had given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and liberty. Another Gold Star appeared in the window of a Brookline home, this time at 2401 Alwyn Street.

Since no body was ever recovered, John Mazza's name is honored on the Tablets of the Missing at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy. The photo below shows his name along with another East Brookline airman who was lost during the war, 2nd Lt. Alexander G. Mayberry of 1301 Breining Street.

Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial    Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial

* Written by Clint Burton: April 12, 2018 *




The Brookline War Memorial

The Brookline Veteran's Memorial.

Listed below are many of the sons of Brookline who gave their
lives to preserve freedom and contain aggression during
World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
General George S. Patton
 

United States Army (1775-present)  United States Army Air Services (1917-1947)  United States Navy (1775-present)  United States Marine Corps (1775-present)
United States Coast Guards (1790-present)  United States Air Force (1947-present)  United States Merchant Marine (1775-present)

World War I (1917-1919)

Percy Digby

Digby, David P.
Mayville Avenue
Army

Details

Raymond P. Cronin

Cronin, Raymond P.
Berkshire Avenue
USMC

Details

Charles Luppe

Luppe, Charles
Ferncliffe Avenue
Army

Details

WW1 Memorial - Washington D.C.
The World War I Memorial - Washington D.C.

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World War II (1941-1945)


Alm William H.
Pioneer Avenue
Army

Details


Arensberg, Roy T.
Fernhill Avenue
Army

Details


Brickley, Edward G.
Woodward Avenue
Army

Details


Bruni, Lawrence A.
Berkshire Avenue
Army

Details


Capogreca, James J.
Merrick Avenue
Navy

Details


Copeland, Clarence R.
Creedmoor Avenue
Navy

Details


Cullison, Thomas J.
Birtley Avenue
Army

Details


Dempsey, Howard F.
Berkshire Avenue
Army

Details


Dempsey, Walter F.
Milan Avenue
Navy

Details


Diegelman, Edward R. Jr
Norwich Avenue
Army

Details


Dornetto, Frank P.
Jacob Street
Navy

Details


Fagan, Gerald B.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Falk, Harold E.
Pioneer Avenue
Army

Details


Fehring, Robert M.
Fernhill Avenue
Army

Details


Hynes, Richard E.
Waddington Avenue
Army

Details


Jackson, Robert E.
Brookline
Army

 


Kestler, Paul C.
Creedmoor Avenue
Navy

Details


Ketters, Robert C.
Berkshire Avenue
Army

Details


Mahoney, Michael J.
Oakridge Street
Army

Details


Majestic, Arthur B.
Starkamp Avenue
Army

Details


Mayberry, Alexander G.
Breining Street
Army

Details


Mazza, John
Alwyn Street
Army

Details


McCann, Robert F.
Edgebrook Avenue
Navy

Details


McFarland, Hugh R.
McNeilly Road
Army

Details


Miller, William J.
Norwich Avenue
Army

Details


Napier, Edward J.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details


Nicholson, John D.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


O'Day, John R.
Creedmoor Avenue
Navy

Details


Orient, Andrew D.
Fordham Avenue
Army

Details


Pisiecki, Raymond A.
Wolford Avenue
Army

Details


Reeves, Alfred M.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details


Reitmeyer, John P.
Bellaire Avenue
Navy

Details


Rhing, Vern M.
Norwich Avenue
Army

Details


Shannon, Harry C.
Midland Street
Army

Details


Shannon, Jack E.
Midland Street
USMC

Details


Simpson, James D.
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Spack, Harry
Linial Avenue
Army

Details


Vierling, Howard F.
Fordham Avenue
Army

Details


Wagner, Ralph G.
Shawhan Avenue
Army

Details


Wentz, Walter L. Jr
Woodbourne Avenue
Army

Details


Zeiler, Harold V.
West Liberty Avenue
Army

Details

WW2 Memorial - Washington D.C.
The World War II Memorial - Washington D.C.

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Korean War (1950-1953)

Patrick Gallagher

Gallagher, Patrick J.
Bodkin Street
Army

Details

James Gormley

Gormley, James W.
Brookline Boulevard
Army

Details

Gerald Hilliard

Hilliard, Gerald G.
Edgebrook Avenue
Army

Details

James McKenna

McKenna, James E.
Bellaire Place
Army

Details

Korean War Memorial - Washington D.C.
Korean War Memorial - Washington D.C.

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Vietnam War (1965-1973)

James Robert Bodish

Bodish, James R.
Plainview Avenue
Army

Virtual Wall
Additional Details

James Gilbert Collins

Collins, James G.
Dunster Street
Army

Virtual Wall
Additional Details

James Charles Wonn

Wonn, James C.
Mayville Avenue
Navy

Virtual Wall
Additional Details

Vietnam War Memorial - Washington D.C.
Vietnam War Memorial - Washington D.C.




The Brookline Monument - The Cannon

Brookline Veteran's Park - April 26, 2014.

<Brookline War Memorial> <> <Brookline History>