Murray’s U.S. Military History

Murray Harry Scheshko, the gardener’s father and son of Isidore and Celia, was a highly intelligent, active, and energetic young man who came of age at the time of WWII. He was born on 5 June 1921 and can be found on a U.S. Marines muster roll on 11 January 1940. He was 18 years old.

He was a private, and the listing is alphabetical, so he is about #9 up from the bottom.

Also, on 11 January 1940, this is listed on Ancestry for Murray, but again, no record to go with it: NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE CARDS.

Name: Murray H Scheshko
Birth Date: 5 Jun 1921
Birth Place: Port Chester, New York
Residence Place: New York City, New York
Enlistment Age: 18
Enlistment Date: 11 Jan 1940
Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, USA
Unit: Co A 1st Mar Bn

U.S. Veterans Affairs Death records show Murray as enlisting on 8 January 1941. But 8 February 1941, a month later and a little over a year after the Marines muster list, he is showing as enlisting in the U.S. Army, Airborne division. What happened between the Marines and the Army? Between 1940 and 1941? I don’t know. And I don’t have a document for this as this is text info on Ancestry.

I’ve never heard of this site before, but they have his army serial number listed (12025969) and mentioned he was Air Corps.  For those of you who don’t know, as I did not know, there was no U.S. Air Force before 1947. The air division was part of the U.S. Army.

Murray’s military history must have been extremely interesting. On the one hand, when I was dating the gardener, I was regaled by the gardener and by Murray with stories of how he spent most of his time in the brig for fighting. At one point, I knew how many days he spent, and it was astronomical. On the other hand, he must have spent some time not in the brig because when the gardener was little, his father had a bucketful of military medals, including a Purple Heart. The gardener has rueful recollections of playing with the medals (and possibly cutting up the ribbons) when he was a kid.

What I didn’t know until somewhat recently is that Murray was part of the 353rd Fighter Group that flew bombing missions over occupied Europe. They are considered heroes in England. Murray was not a pilot. He was staff sergeant, an “armourer,” which means that he was in charge of the weapons for the group. There are websites online devoted to the group, and Murray is mentioned in them.

American Air Museum

353rd Fighter Group

I have also been given some photos of the group with Murray in them.

Murray is standing, on our left.

Murray on our right

Were the brig stories exaggerated? Or was he able to be a hero in between his fights? By way of explanation about the fighting, I will mention that during the time that Murray was stationed in England he experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism which tainted his time with the English.

I am posting a photocopy of a pic of Murray with other soldiers in the U.S. Army in case someone finds this blog post and recognizes someone in the photo.

Murray was a gentleman and a good father, but there were some vestiges of him as a “tough guy” throughout his life. He always dreamed of being an attorney (and loved his copy of Black’s Law Dictionary), but the opportunity didn’t happen for him. Instead, he became Plant Manager and VP of Research and Development for Dr. Denton (yes, the pjs with feet) and Lambknit sweater mill (southwestern Michigan).

After his American military career, instead of going to school or settling down, and before he became a business executive, Murray took one detour. To be continued at some point.

What is Closest at Hand?

We do have some information from other relatives about the gardener’s (aka my husband’s) maternal history, but it will need more work in the future. For now, we want to focus on his paternal relatives because we know so little of them.

I wrote to the gardener’s cousin and asked if he had any documents passed down in the family. Unfortunately, he does not. At some point, anything that would help in researching the family history was thrown away or lost.

But I started to think that since both his paternal grandparents immigrated to this country and died here, that the cemetery and their headstones would be the first step.

They are both buried at Montefiore Cemetery in Queens. I was able to confirm that on Find-a-grave. I asked our cousin to take photos of the headstones because I didn’t think it was a good idea to ask my daughter who is not familiar with areas of NYC outside where she lives and works–and she has no car. He was very willing, but then Sharon from Branches of our Haimowitz Family Tree told me that I could just ask the cemetery to take the photos for me for $10! So much easier. It turned out to be quick, too, because the photos showed up in my mailbox seemingly instantaneously. Thank you to Carl!

 

I knew Celia because when the gardener and I got married she was elderly. She traveled from NYC to Michigan for our wedding and brought her own food with her as she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to get kosher food in Kalamazoo.

She was a tiny little lady. Here is a photo of her dancing with her son, my father-in-law Murray, at our wedding.

Since Isidore passed away in 1953, I wasn’t even born yet, so I never met him. But his presence was always a part of the family that I married into.

 

I think these are extraordinarily beautiful headstones–the details are marvelous.

What did we learn from the headstones? We already knew their names and the dates they died. But we might have learned the year they both were born–Isidore’s by taking 1953 and subtracting his 68 years and hers by taking 1982 and subtracting her 89 years. Time will tell if we are right.

By translating the Hebrew we have learned that his father was listed as Shimon, and that Isidore’s Hebrew name was Itzchak Meir (my husband was named for him).

Celia’s Hebrew name was Tziviah Sheindel (Tzivia Shaindel). In fact, our daughter is named for her and for my grandmother–Miriam Shaindel. Several people translated the headstone, just to make sure. This is the one from a kind soul on a Facebook group.

Line 1, [abbreviation]: Here lies buried, L2: Tziviah Sheindel, daughter of , L3: Mr. Baruch Avraham, L4: died 4 Kislev 5743, L5: [abbreviation] May her soul be bound in the bond of life.

 

The “Mr.” is seen in the abbreviation resh (R) followed by what looks like an apostrophe. This is for the Yiddish word Reb (according to the translator above), which is a term of honor closest to mister. Remember in Fiddler on the Roof Tevye is sometimes called Reb Tevye?

It was very helpful to locate the headstones as an initial step, and I’m glad we tried what is closest at hand first. Having the names of the fathers will be a big help in searching in eastern Europe.