Photograph of the Week – Gold Star Family WWII – Harrison, NJ

During World War II the town of Harrison, in Hudson County, NJ, lost 64 young men in the conflict.  Here is a photo of John J. Doran before signing up for service, while he was in the Civilian Conservation Corp in Montana. He looks so handsome, strong, carefree, and happy. And this is just the way he would want us to remember him. He’s hoisting that huge log like it was a matchstick! Later he signed up for service for the duration of the war. Sadly he was one included in that list of 64 men killed, and his mother, Mary Mahoney Doran, joined the ranks of Gold Star Mothers.

A little known source of genealogy information are the books sometimes published by the towns and cities after the war called the “Big One” ended. In Harrison the town council and long-time mayor, Frank E. Rodgers, with the assistance of other town groups, prepared such a book. There is a photo of each of the men lost, and a short biography. Below, copied from the book, is what was written of our beloved family member.

Source: In Memoriam, Harrison, New Jersey, 1947.
“Private First Class Doran was a member of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, one of the divisions selected to spearhead the D Day assault on Normandy, June 6, 1944. Wounded in that action on June 9, he returned to duty to engage in the assault upon St. Lo and Brest. He was killed in the storming of the gates of Brest, August 30, 1944. Holder of the Purple Heart, he was posthumously awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster.
Enlisting on May 16, 1942, he was in training for four months in this country before embarking with his unit for England on September 26, 1942. Here his division staged a series of interminable maneuvers in preparation for the D Day invasion.
Private Doran was born in Kearny, March 6, 1923. He was educated at Harrison schools and was last employed in Newark at the Clark Thread Company.
He was the son of the late Mr. Bernard Doran. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Mary Doran; two sisters, Misses Margaret and Elizabeth; and five brothers, Bernard, Jr., James, Peter, William, and Joseph Doran.”

Also, in the back of the booklet the names of all the men and women that served from Harrison are included. If anyone wants more information please leave a comment, and I’ll try to help.

Roll Of Honor Harrison

9 thoughts on “Photograph of the Week – Gold Star Family WWII – Harrison, NJ

  1. Neat photo–I don’t remember ever seeing it before. Do you know where in Montana John Doran was when he was in the CCC?


  2. Thanks Kelly! Of the three brothers, Bernard, James, and John, that were in the CCC before signing up for WW II, we only know the camp that James went to, in the state of Washington. We’ll have to start researching the other two!


      1. Thanks, it’s okay. I think I have it somewhere in my files. Isn’t it sad how many losses each family experienced in that awful war.


  3. In the Harrison book there is a nice photo of Joseph F. Zielinski and a short biography. He was born 9 August 1909 in Passaic, NJ and died 24 October 1944 in San Diego, CA. The losses during every war are horrific, but the war the Greatest Generation fought was truly awful.


  4. My grandfather Robert Carter from Portland, Me was part of this division and regiment. He was wounded in St. Lo for the last time before they sent him home. We believe he was in the DDay invasion as well. Not sure if it fits with the post above, but I appreciate the connection.


  5. Spencer, I give many thanks for your grandfather’s service during World War Two. There are many excellent books about the 29th Division, but my favorite author is Historian Joseph Balkoskii. Have you read his “Beyond the Beachhead” about the battle of St. Lo? It took 45 days of intense battle from D-Day to the liberation of that city. God bless your grandfather Robert for his sacrifices!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s