Samuel J. Schlosser

 

Samuel J. Schlosser was born March 6, 1918 in Manhattan, New York to Pauline Mett (circa 1893-?) and Max Schlosser (August 7, 1891-April, 1971). His mother was a native of Odessa, Russia, and had immigrated to the United States in 1917. His father immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1907 and was a native speaker of Polish. When Samuel Schlosser enlisted in the Army on April 3, 1942, he was 147 pounds and 5'5 tall. He was unmarried, had completed four years of college at Pratt Institute in New York, and worked as a commercial artist.

Here is a photo of Samuel Schlosser from the 1939 Pratt Institute Yearbook.

What would the Puppetry Club look like?

Except for mentions in newspapers from 1960 when Exterminator was found in the Huntington Lake reservoir there is only one document that I could find mentioning Schlosser. On October 15, 1946 Mrs. Rae M. Schlosser made an inquiry to the National Jewish Welfare Board, probably about a death benefit, for Samuel J. Schlosser. On a 3X5 index card Rae is listed as "wife" and living at 1014 Avenue J in Brooklyn, New York. Not unlike many boys facing an uncertain future as a combat soldier, at some time between his enlistment on April 3, 1942 and Samuelís death December 6, 1943 he had married.

As far as anything in the way of official documentation for Samuel J. Schlosser the trail ends ignominiously there. There is a last avenue to pursue but it isnít an easy one to follow, requiring either that you be a family member of a deceased servicemember or knowledgeable about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In the United States an investigation is conducted for every member of the armed forces who dies, whether it be by accident, disease, natural causes, or combat. These Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPF), which can be anywhere from a page or two to hundreds of pages, are kept in the files of whichever branch of service the man or women was assigned to. Unless you can demonstrate you are a blood relative of the person whose IDPF you have requested, a FOIA request must be made. Making the request doesnít insure it will be honored unless you can convince the person reviewing FOIA requests that you have any business delving into the personal file of someone you donít know.

On February 28, 2013 I submitted a FOIA request for all the boys from 463 and Exterminator who were killed. Thirteen months later I had a reply from the United States Army Human Resources Command and was able to download the IDPF files for all the crewmen except Howard Wandtke, Robert Hester, Charles Turvey, and Dick Mayo. I was told that IDPFs for the boys existed but could not be located.

Missing IDPFs are not unusual. The original paper folders may have been requested in the past and misfiled or not returned. They could have been lost or inadvertently destroyed. Many, not all, have been digitalized from Microfiche which makes search, retrieval, and distribution less onerous for family and researchers (and the Army) than in the past.

It was from Samuel Schlosserís IDPF that I learned some amazing things.

Newspaper reports said that all the crew had been recovered from the airplane. A September 26, 1955 Stars and Stripes reported, "The remains of two of the wartime airmen were recovered from a section of the fuselage late Friday. Two other bodies were pulled from the tail and nose sections Thursday." Other newspapers marvel at the pristine condition of the bodies. What the IDPF for Schlosser shows is the difference between "remains" and "bodies."

Inside Schlosserís IDPF are all the pertinent data about Samuel J. Schlosser since he joined the Army. Between his enlistment and a physical examination October 5, 1943 Schlosserís weight has gone up nineteen pounds and heís grown one and a quarter inch. His build is described as "stocky", his frame has changed from "medium" to "heavy" and his hair color is brown.

There is a also a skeletal chart, dated December 13, 1955. On the obverse side of the chart is an exploded diagram of a skeleton with all the uncollected remains of Samuel J. Schlosser, collected by Exterminatorís recovery crew, blacked out. Disturbingly, the only part of his remains not blacked out is Schlosserís skull.

A few items of interest from Samuel Schlosserís IDPF help round out all weíll ever know about him. His middle name is "Jack" and he has a brother, Herbert Schlosser, who lives in East Meadow, Long Island, at 220 Vincent Drive.

I could only uncover one other thing about Samuel Schlosser. Further digging on the Ancestry.com website revealed that his wife, Rae Schlosser, had remarried a man named Harold Lisses. This was common enough during, and after, the war. I found a daughter, born February 24, 1944, named Sandra Paula Schlosser Lisses but nothing else about her. And thatís where the Schlosser family trail turned ice cold. Until late April, 2018 when I was contacted by Stephen Sparks. Sparks is married to Samuel Schlosser's granddaughter, Melissa.

I learned some interesting family history from Sparks. Harold Lisses was killed by a drunk driver on the Long Island Expressway May, 1972. He was helping a stranded motorist when a drunk driver, heading in the opposite direction, lost control of his vehicle, crossed over the center line, and struck Lisses. As a result of that accident all the expressways on Long Island were equipped with medians and barriers. Rae Schlosser Lisses passed away from cancer shortly before September, 2001. She was 87 years old.

Also of interest is that, though US Census documents say that Samuel Schlosser's father, Max, died April, 1971 (and is silent about his mother, Pauline), Stephen Sparks told me that Schlosser's parents were both killed in an automobile accident in the 1920s when Samuel and his brother Herbert were very young. The boys were raised by their aunt, Marion Ortenberg. Both Herbert and Marion are listed on Samuel's enlistment papers as Next of Kin. There is no mention of any parents.

A little further digging turned up a Marion Ortenberg who lived from August 18, 1887 to January 1, 1977. A death record for her gives her zip code as 10022 and this coincides with an address in the Bronx for Ortenberg given on Schlosser's enlistment papers: 410 E. 57th St.

Stephen Sparks also provided me with a photo, probably taken at their wedding, of Samuel and Rae Schlosser. Note that Schlosser is wearing a saber for some reason.

As Stephen Sparks said to me several times, what marks Samuel Schlosser's time on earth is not so much what he did during his life but the heritage of his DNA. Schlosser has a daughter, two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Besides the monument to Exterminator's crew at Huntington Lake reservoir, there is one other thing marks his passage - Schlosser's name on a memorial to citizens of New York who were killed in our nation's wars.

(Monument at Rockaway Beach in New York City bearing the name of Samuel J. Schlosser)

 

 
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