This site/page is dedicated to the memory of my brother, Edward Tambascia, who went missing during WWII. He is among the over 73,000 heroes who were reported missing during that conflict and whose remains were never found.
The following is the story of my dear brother and his family, based on family memories, his many letters to us during his service, and research concerning his unit’s participation in the European theatre.
Edward Tambascia, born August 16, 1922, was the oldest child of Marietta (nee Antonelli) Tambascia-Severo. He never really knew his biological father, Dominic Tambascia, who died when Edward was only four years old. John Severo raised Edward and his sister as his own along with two sons of his own. At an early age, Edward demonstrated immense artistic talent and engineering/mechanical aptitude, evidence of which are part of our family’s cherished collection. Upon graduation from Buffalo’s Kensington High School in 1939, with the situation in Europe heating up, Edward joined the New York National Guard (NYNG) to prepare to defend his country if necessary. On September 16, 1940 the NYNG was federalized and Edwards unit, Co. D, 174th Infantry, 44th Div, was inducted into active service. He spent the first two years of the war stateside, undergoing extensive military and radio communications/electronics training and assignments to several posts dedicated to the guarding and protection of the American Coastline. In March 1944, Edward qualified for the Army Air Cadet program to become a commissioned officer in the Army Air Corps, but was unable to join the program, because he was unable to obtain a transfer out of his current organization.
In June, 1944, Edward’s Unit was Transferred to CO.V, 1533 and deployed to the European Theatre. After a short orientation in England, the unit was transferred to join the battle on the continent of Europe. For the next three months, Edward was part of the liberation army fighting in battles from France, through the Netherlands, to Germany. During this time Edward’s unit became part of CO. C, 115th Inf., 29th Div. We were able to determine that he participated in several battles during this time, including St Lo, Brest, and the Rhineland campaign.
On October 4th, 1944 Edward’s unit was ordered to clear a wooded area near Hattarath, Germany of the enemy. The strength and number of the German forces were grossly underestimated, and after heavy shelling the overwhelmed Americans were forced to evacuate, leaving dead and wounded behind. Following battle, the next day, Edward, who had been wounded, was listed among the missing and one year later on October 5th, 1945, in accordance with regulations, the army issued a Presumptive Finding Of Death (FOD).
In addition to his parents, John and Marietta Severo, Edward was survived by his sister Lucia (Edie) Tambascia and brothers Norman and Armando Severo. Edie married William Schimpf, (who also served in WWII), and had four children; Dennis, (who served in Vietnam), Kathy, Karen and William. Armando married Roberta Edwards and has two children, Anthony and Marc.
I was home with my mother when she received the telegram from the Dept. of the Army informing her that her son was missing in action. At the time, my 9 year old mind was unable to comprehend the seriousness and dread of such a notice. To me, this was a temporary thing; that he would turn up at a POW camp or in some nearby village, perhaps suffering from amnesia resulting from his wound. As time passed, I began to realize how devastating this really was – to lose a child and never achieve closure. How many times I would awaken in the morning and hear my mother sobbing in the living room. When she heard me stirring, she would put away whatever memento she was holding and rush into the bathroom to rinse her eyes, only to emerge with a smile and a hug, not wanting her little boy to see her in such pain.
The war came to an end, but there was no information regarding Edward’s fate or whereabouts. We only knew that he had been seriously wounded and left behind when his unit was forced to retreat under heavy enemy fire When they returned to the scene of the battle the next day to recover the wounded and dead, they were unable to locate Edward or his remains.
For over 60 years our family sought information, sending countless letters to DOD, Dept. of Army, Congressmen, agencies and organizations, and provided articles to numerous newspapers, magazines etc. in search of someone who might provide some clue as to what happened to Edward or his remains. All these efforts were fruitless. Also, in 1956, while on a Fulbright fellowship in Stockholm, my brother Norman made extensive inquiries of the International HQ of the Red Cross in Geneva and several German agencies dealing with information regarding WWII and its aftermath. He did learn that the village of Hatterath had been evacuated prior to the battle, but these inquiries also failed to turn up any further information regarding our brother.
Sadly, both our parents passed on, never to receive any closure regarding their son.
In 2003, while working as a consultant to the Dept. of Army in Washington, D.C., I became aware of two things:
1) Any record regarding my brother would have been destroyed in a fire at the St Louis National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) on July 12,1973, and
2) The Netherlands American Cemetery dedicated to Americans who gave their lives in liberating The Netherlands contained the graves and memorials of soldiers who may have served with Edward.
In the hopes that they may have some record of my brother, I contacted the cemetery and was informed that Edward’s name was inscribed on the Wall of the Missing. I also learned at that time that, in addition to the Purple Heart for his wounds, Edward had been awarded the Bronze Star.
None of the above information was ever conveyed to my family over the years despite numerous communications with Military/Government officials.
In the fall of 2003, my sister Edie, brother Norman, my wife Roberta and I visited the cemetery located in Margraten, Netherlands. The emotions we felt as we walked through the immaculate areas and seeing Edward’s name on the wall were overwhelming. How we wished our parents could have lived to see this memorial to their son and his fallen comrades. The Dutch people’s expressions of love and appreciation for the military personnel who liberated their country is unparalleled.
We also visited the area and battlefield where my brother went missing. Given the remoteness of the area and his wounds, any fantasies I had of his wandering off and finding refuge vanished, thus providing me with some degree of closure of my own.
I would also like to explore extending this site to others who wish to include stories of their loved ones who are still Missing in Action.