Lost: Unknown Returned: May 2014 Location: Fort Myers, FL
Private First Class Richard Ferris
Enlisted: 13 May 1942
Enlistment Location: Ft. Jay Governors Island, NY
Born: 04 October 1918 in the Bronx, NY
KIA: 09 September 1943
Buried: Long Island National Cemetery (Section J, Site 16394)
Buried: 18 NOV 1948, body returned from Paestum-Mt. Soprano-Italy.
Father: Alexander Ferris (B: 1894) Deceased
Mother: Lillian Ferris (B: 1900) Deceased
Wife: Esther Ferris
Served in Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 131stField Artillery Battalion (75mm Truck), 36th Infantry Division
The Regiment was called to federal service as part of the 36th Infantry Division on 25 November, 1940 and arrived at Camp Bowie, Brownwood, on 11 Jan 1941. 1st Battalion was designated 131st Field Artillery Battalion (75 mm Truck), trained with the 36th Division, moved to Camp Blanding, Florida and Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, departing from New York for North Africa on 2 Apr 1943. After staging in North Africa, the unit, assigned as direct support for 141st Infantry, landed in the assault at Salerno 9 September.
During the invasion of Salerno Beach, in the midst of the action, an hour after the first man stepped foot on the beach, two 105-mm howitzers of the 131st Field Artillery Battalion came ashore to provide artillery support. During the attack, PVT Richard Ferris, under a heavy artillery barrage, remained at the artillery piece though wounded and was killed when struck by a second shell fragment. Ferris was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart.
His citation reads, “PVT Richard Ferris displayed magnificent heroism and determination as a machine gunner in the fighting at Salerno, Italy. After being wounded by an enemy shell and receiving first aid, Ferris returned to action and the performance of his allotted task. He was killed by a second shell fragment during this voluntary and courageous performance of a hazardous duty.
Inexplicably, Ferris’s Purple Heart medal and documentation were found amidst a pile of discarded furniture in a Florida storage unit. With the help of Purple Hearts Reunited, the medals were presented to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, DC. PFC Ferris is one of only 44 Jewish Americans to receive a Distinguished Flying Cross.