John "Johnny" Connell is Grandpa Dolan's first cousin; son of John and Lily (Dolan) Connell of Zion. After graduating from Z-B High school in the spring of 1943 he quickly joined the army. When two of his uncles took him to the train station when he was leaving for the Pacific, he told them that he didn't think he was going to come back.
Grandpa Dolan and Johnny almost crossed paths at Pearl Harbor in November of 1943, but they just missed each other. They never saw each other again.
Johnny was with the army's 27th Infantry Division and fought in the battle of Saipan. He was badly wounded while assaulting Japanese machine gun emplacements. In order to identify hidden positions he drew enemy fire on himself, was hit once, but continued to fire on the position until it could be destroyed. He was hit again. He was taken back to an aid station on a tank, but died of his wounds on June 24, 1944. He received the Silver Star for heroism.
Johnny was buried in a military cemetery on Saipan, and my Uncle Ernie Dolan (who was with the Navy Seabees) visited his grave there. After the war his remains were brought home and he is now buried at Mt. Olivet cemetery in Zion. His sweetheart from high school continues to keep flowers on his grave to this day. His death had a huge impact on the family for years to come, and is, I believe, where I got my name.
Remember Johnny Connell on Memorial Day.
|Prt. John W. Connell Killed on Saipan June 1944|
Photo Taken at Pearl Harbor