SOUND OFF!

This page is specifically for YOU!  Let us know what you think, relate a story from your relatives who were part of the 853rd, or tell us YOUR story!  This site was begun by the research of one...it lives on with the stories of many.  Please send your story, letters, books, etc to us by using the address listed below.
 
853rd Living History Company
2028 Maverick Drive
Sacramento, CA 95961
 
Or, you can email your letters, stories, requests for information, etc. to the 853rd Living History Company at jason.markiewitz@gmail.com.
 
Please know that excerpts from your submissions may be used on this site for purposes of historical completion, research, information or other uses deemed beneficial to the organization.  Your personal information will not be shared with any third party source nor will it be listed on this site without your permission.

Sgt Louis Markiewitz Audio File Posted

posted Apr 14, 2020, 8:42 PM by Jason Markiewitz

This is a rare occurrence.  I have posted a 16-minute excerpt from my grandfather, Sgt. Louis R. Markiewitz, as he described the harrowing circumstances of the HMT Rohna attack.  This clip was recorded in 1996 when he was 89 years old.  Growing up in Hawaii, he was a strong swimmer, and it is that skill that he confidently attributes to him being in the group of 900 survivors and not the 1,015 Americans who were killed in the attack.  It is posted in the Research Library.  I hope you are moved by this first-hand account of that fateful day.

2018 HMT Rohna Reunion a Success

posted Jun 24, 2018, 7:57 PM by Jason Markiewitz

Not only was the 2018 Reunion in Memphis, TN a success, but it also had numerous unforeseen benefits that I want to share with you.  First, the reunion was held in Tennessee, only two hours south of Dyersburg Army Airfield where the 853rd performed their engineer training in the early stages of 1943.  Second, I met a few folks who were genuinely interested in the battalion and performed two at-length interviews over the course of the reunion.  One person will be writing a book and the other was a documentary filmmaker.  At this moment I am not at liberty to disclose any more than that since these projects are definitely in their infancy and no writer or filmmaker likes to be put under an artificial timeline for a project like this.  I also had the honor of presenting a lesson on the 853rd from the perspective of a company commander.  The performance was not as good as I had hoped, but it was the first time I had ever attempted such a style.  With a little polish it will be a great "one man play" I'm sure.  Finally, the Dyersburg Historical Society players performed Catherine Ladnier's One-Act play, "Apron Strings" about a young Lieutenant (an 853rd officer) through correspondence from 1943-1945 to his sister and his wife.  It was performed as an "old-time radio program" complete with "On the Air" signage, narration, and music.  The costumes were excellent and they really did the play justice.  

I am excited to see what the rest of 2018 has to offer.  I am hoping to put together the one man play about the 853rd and present it near the actual anniversary of the Rohna sinking on 26 Nov.  More to follow.  I will also be posting some events in the Living History section over the next few months where I hope to be speaking on the battalion and the Rohna in northern California and possibly Nevada.  Again, more to follow.  

If you are reading this and you would like to get on an email distribution, please email me at jason.markiewitz@gmail.com.  

Radio Interview on HMT Rohna Posted

posted May 23, 2018, 8:19 PM by Jason Markiewitz

I had the honor of being interviewed on the Hudson River Radio network for a special Memorial Day focused program.  I was asked to do the interview in my capacity as the President of the Rohna Survivors Memorial Association, but also discussed the huge hit the 853rd took during the Rohna attack.  I have included a link in the "Links" section of this site for easy access.  You can also access the interview (59 minutes) by visiting http://hudsonriverradio.com/lets-talk-history-podcast.html.  I know you'll enjoy it.

New Records Found - More Members Identified

posted Mar 25, 2018, 1:16 AM by Jason Markiewitz

One of the great things about research is that you never know what you will find in that box in "Grandpa's garage."  In my case, when my grandparents died, I was given a few boxes of items marked simply, "Jason."  In one of the boxes were unit rosters from India for each Company, a map of all the bases served at in India, original mailers from the 853rd's first four unit reunions and two excellent battalion histories that covered not just battalion exploits, but also experiences on the ill-fated HMT Rohna.  These documents allowed me to increase the total number of identified battalion members (originals, transfers, and replacements) to 1,464 total personnel!  Amazing!  Out of those, I have fully identified 939 members into their appropriate companies with only 118 unassigned replacements and 407 other unassigned personnel (including more than 95% of those who were KIA on the Rohna).  If you haven't browsed lately, this is a good update!

Updates and Requests for Information

posted Mar 12, 2018, 5:37 PM by Jason Markiewitz

As you may have already seen, I have included an artist rendering of the unit crest in color on the left-sidebar of this site.  Can I prove that this was the actual color scheme for the battalion? Unfortunately not.  However, I have done extensive research and I would give this rendering an 85% solution on the actual design and color scheme.  It is truly unfortunate that there were so few images of unit crest/shields in color, but I will constantly strive to provide more information as I learn it.  Additionally, if anyone out there has unit histories, ledgers, pictures, etc., please contact me and I would love to talk to you about it.  

Acquisition of Original Battalion Documents

posted Jul 11, 2015, 6:37 PM by Jason Markiewitz

I am so fortunate to have made three incredible contacts over the past two weeks.  First, Mr. Harvey L. Wood, a member of the 442d Replacement Company who joined the battalion following its decimation on 26 Nov 1943.  Mr. Wood is 91 years old and he wrote me a letter in response to the mailers I sent out the week previous.  I have continued correspondence and am hoping to receive copies of some of the many pictures he stated he had in an album from his time in India.  Second, Mr. William Northrop, an online dealer of World War II memorabilia and documents.  I contacted Mr. Northrop after I noticed he had sold some 853rd specific information online looking to acquire whatever else he had.  And, for a reasonable sum, I managed to acquire over 70 documents and a 1943 directory from Dyersburg Army Airfield where the battalion was formed.  Finally, I received an email from Jenna Zenner, the granddaughter of Lt. Joseph Adducci (Brothers in Arms - "A" Company), and am working on acquiring additional documents that Lt Adducci saved and passed down through his family.  Based upon the amount of documents I will be receiving over the next few weeks, I will likely have to revamp the Research Library section of this site.  I will let everyone know when those changes are available and when the information is posted.

Replacement Rosters Now in "Brothers in Arms"

posted Jul 5, 2015, 5:16 PM by Jason Markiewitz

Over the past week, I have re-organized the "Brothers in Arms" sections to include the replacements.  As many of you know, the battalion lost 62% of its manpower in the Rohna disaster and required replacements to get the battalion back to strength in India.  This list is not all-inclusive.  There were more than just the five replacement companies represented here, but it gives a good start to the men who made this battalion combat effective in India.  

Commendation Letter and Orders to Move added to "Research Library"

posted Jul 3, 2015, 11:56 AM by Jason Markiewitz

Thank you to the children of Lt Robert B. Shaw, Company C, who sent these documents to me yesterday.  Leslie Shaw Wind and Robert Shaw Jr. found these three items in their father's things and they are a great record of work at Bangalore Airfield.  The pieces all go together.  In Jan 1945, Lt Shaw and a detail of men went to Bangalore for a critical runway repair job.  During the two months they were there, their efforts were maligned despite the great work they performed.  The Commendation from the Commander of the India-Burma Air Depot, routed to Lt Col Frolich and then to the District Engineer, shows the hard work this crew performed.  They re-deployed to the Battalion location in Chabua on 2 Mar 1945.

Letters to the Original 853rd

posted Jun 26, 2015, 8:56 AM by Jason Markiewitz

On Thursday, 25 June, I sent letters to the last known addresses of many of the original members of the battalion.  I hope to get responses from more than a few.  I wish I could say I had better fidelity on those members who are still living as many are likely now in their early 90s.

Transcribed Good Conduct Medal Citations from 1944 Now Added to "Research Library"

posted Jun 24, 2015, 12:11 PM by Jason Markiewitz

In an effort to provide the best data possible, our research has been exhaustive.  The Good Conduct Medal citations from 17 May and 22 May 1944 were very difficult to read.  Thanks to the multitude of databases including the National Archives and the Rohna Survivors Memorial Association, transcribing has been performed to what we believe to be the 97% accurate solution.  They are in .pdf format and available to download. 

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