On July 22, 1945 the War Department announced that Staff Sgt. John McCormick, 23 years old from Scranton, was “killed in action in Holland on April 29 while resisting capture by the enemy.”
But there was more to the story. McCormick’s father, John, later received letters from his son’s friends detailing that he died shielding a Dutch woman from the enemy’s attack.
The letters stated that Sgt. McCormick first hid for several days after his plane, B-24 Liberator “Jolly Duck,” was forced down on Feb. 22. The Dutch Underground found him and hide and cared for him for nine weeks.
On April 29, in the village of Zevenhuizen, Germany, soldiers found the wreckage of McCormick’s bomber. A friend who was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force wrote “when the Germans attacked he died trying to shield a Dutch woman at whom the Germans were shooting. I believe he saved her life as she was only wounded.”
The officer added “my crew and I had the good fortune to have lived with your son in one of the Dutch Underground headquarters. During our four weeks together I am glad to say a deep friendship grew between us. The Dutch people with whom we lived were very fond of him and they were very distressed when they heard of his untimely end.”
Another friend wrote “after Sergeant McCormick made the supreme sacrifice, (it was) declared that the people of Zevenhuizen will cherish that part of Holland that is forever American.”
McCormick was buried in the Zoetermeer Old Churchyard in Zoetermeer, Netherlands.
We thank the people from @gemZoetermeer, #Zoeterwoude and Zevenhuizen for keeping alive the story of American pilot and WWII hero John McCormick from Scranton, Pennsylvania. #75LiberationNL @AptrootC @timestribune @The570 pic.twitter.com/GKMVBKhV21
— US Embassy The Hague (@usembthehague) July 23, 2019
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He once won a chili cook-off with a kielbasa and three pepper chili, and he competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast