To Remember and Never Forget: As we go through life, we remember those we knew and loved and were taught about. And we are challenged to never forget that which they accomplished, that which they contributed and that which they sacrificed. I respectfully offer this brief profile of a young soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country in WWII.
He was someone I heard about repeatedly in my youth and have been blessed to learn so much more about more than 75 years after his death. This was accomplished through the efforts of a group of individuals who have come together as family in the past decade, determined to assure that his memory would be preserved.
Private First-Class Solomon D. Mosner was a member of the 311th “Timberwolf” Infantry Regiment, 78th “Lightning” Division. Entering military service in April 1944, he landed in LeHavre, France in November of that year and was dispatched to the intense fighting in the Hurtgen Forest region that on December 16, 1944 became the Battle of the Bulge. By January 1945, elements of the Lightning Division had extended about four kilometers into Germany from Belgium and were ordered to attack enemy pillboxes and other fortifications that endangered their hold on this territory. Private Mosner was killed in action on January 18, 1945 in the village of Bickerath, Germany, close to the border.
He was my father Julie Mischel’s best friend when they lived in Astoria, a neighborhood in the borough of Queens, New York City. Remarkably, these closest of friends were inducted into the army together on April 6, 1944 at Camp Upton, NY and also served in the same infantry regiment of the Lightning Division. Their army serial numbers were actually consecutive, differing by only one digit: my father was #42130651 and Solomon’s was #42130652.
Known to his family and friends by his nickname of ‘Sid’, I often heard my grandparents and uncles speak fondly of him when I was a young boy growing up in the 1960s. There is no question that he held a special place in our family, almost as a son who had been lost. Typical of many veterans of his generation, my father was reluctant to share his war experiences and did not speak about Sid very often. I believe he was especially sad that having been wounded and evacuated relatively early from the battle, during December 1944, he was not there when his dear friend was killed.
Although it’s many decades since his death, it has been possible over the last few years to piece together a profile of this wonderful young soldier based on letters he wrote, remembrances of family members and friends, photos, information from his high school and through retrieval of partial military records.
Solomon Mosner was born on January 26, 1926 and died just a week before his 19th birthday. He is buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, the final resting place of about 8000 of the American casualties of the Battle of the Bulge.
My father’s army scrapbook contains a page of notes for his “favorite buddy” describing Sid as red-headed, and a quiet, reasonable, proper and refined type as well as religious. From the letters we have that Sid wrote, it is clear that he was extremely polite and respectful and indeed, he referenced religious observance and holidays. My father noted, and Sid’s letters confirm, that he had a good sense of humor and that he very much was a fan of the motion pictures.
Although good friends, they did not attend high school together. My father qualified to attend one of New York’s very few specialized high schools, Brooklyn Technical, and graduated right before being drafted to the army in the Spring of 1944. Sid opted to stay in his neighborhood and attend William Cullen Bryant High School. However, being the extremely impressive student that he was, he graduated in January 1943, a year and a half early. He wasted not a moment and immediately began attending New York University, completing three semesters before being inducted into the army. Having managed to obtain a copy of his high school yearbook, it was apparent what an outstanding student he was. He was cited as having been a member of the Arista Honor Society and achieved honors in Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Biology, Plane Geometry, Intermediate Algebra and Modern European History.
One of the happy aspects of Sid’s story, only recently brought to light, is the fact that he had a longstanding and close relationship with his girlfriend Sylvia Levin. They were, in fact, childhood sweethearts. A collection of letters that Sid wrote to her and her other family members has recently been revealed by her nephew. The letters bring insight into the kind of person he was and help to reconstruct a bit more of his story.
Sid stayed in regular contact via letters written to Sylvia. It seems that he wrote whenever he was able, both during his basic training and his deployment. Even in the midst of the fighting in the Hurtgen Forest, he was writing letters to her and to others as well. The letters were true statements of affection and there is no doubt from everything we’ve learned that he held a special place in her heart.
As an 18-year-old teenager away from home for the first time, he not surprisingly commented on how tough the training was at times, the lack of cleanliness, and the difficulty of not knowing anyone in his barracks. Throughout this difficult period of preparation and then engagement in war, his letters showed caring, concern and a hunger for contact with those he loved back home. One of the most touching things I’ve learned about is the special relationship he maintained with both my grandmother and Sylvia’s mother, having lost his own mother at a young age. He had a regular correspondence with both of them and felt a part of both families. The reminiscences of members of both the Mischel and Levin families attest to the mutual affection and deep sense of loss that they continued to experience, even decades later.
Sid’s memory remains alive in the hearts of all of us who have been blessed to play a part in researching and revealing some of his story. We honor his sacrifice and we will remember all that was good in his short life. May his memory be a blessing. He will not be forgotten.
These are links to documentation and previous articles that will add to the story of Private First- Class Solomon D. Mosner:
I gratefully offer my thanks for having met these friends whose contributions have enabled the compilation of this brief profile:
-Martin J. Siegel, Colonel U.S.A.R. (Ret), Wayne, New Jersey
-Fabrice Dubois, Stavelot, Belgium
-James Cowen, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
-Louis Marcus, Paris, France