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, and worked as a commercial artist.
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. Shocking too. And disappointing.
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. His remains, what little there are of them, could have been identified by dental charts. Except there were no dental charts for Schlosser, only for his compatriots. So he was identified, not by data, but by the lack of data.
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 23, 1942, named Sandra Paula Schlosser Lisses but nothing else about her. And thatís where the Schlosser family trail turns ice cold.
If all this Schlosser sounds like a lot, it isnít. Itís only data. There is nothing to show what the man was like as a person. No personal accounts. No letters. No photographs of Schlosser. And importantly for the researcher, all names and address are dead ends.
Only one 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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