Far out in front of the infantry—sometimes forward of the front line itself—are the forward artillery observation units. During WW II, Joe Goldbach served in such a unit, working his way deep into Japanese territory ahead of the advancing American forces. He carried a machine gun on his back, but his map, compass, and altimeter were his real weapons. His observations were the eyes and ears of the Army’s mighty artillery far to the rear. Relying on his word–and mathematical skill–the big guns would fire over the infantry to soften up Japanese positions.
“In our unit we had a lot of Japanese American guys from California,” he says. “Their job was to make contact with the Japanese at the front and to convince them to surrender.” We didn’t try to kill a lot of Japanese soldiers, Joe admits. Not unless we had to. But we’d rather convince them to surrender for some food, water, and clothing. We carried a lot of supplies for those guys if they wanted to give themselves up instead of fighting, he says. It’s wasn’t like the movies.
We frequently get the opportunity to record our veterans’ interviews at the venerable Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. Situated in the busy Oakland section of Pittsburgh, the great Hall is a central landmark that sits high above 5th Avenue, like a citadel.
Yet, despite its urban location for a hundred years, many residents still don’t know much about the museum. As if hidden in plain sight, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum is the nation’s only military museum dedicated to honoring the men and women of all branches of service.
That mission complements our own commitment to preserve the stories of local veterans from all branches of service and eras—including the often forgotten Cold War. Of course, because time is running out we prioritize working with the WW II generation, as was the case during this recording session; seven of the eight veterans we interviewed served during WW II.
Over two days (November 21st and 22nd) we welcomed our participating veterans to the museum’s grand Gettysburg Room, where we set up our mobile recording studio. It’s a popular recording space, often seen in local documentaries; the History Channel likes to record here as well.
Again this year the recording project was joined by the 354th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, a communications unit in the Army Reserve located in Coraopolis, Pa. The mission of the 354th is to publicize the Army and its history.
“In addition to our own interviews,” said director Todd DePastino of the Veterans Breakfast Club, “each year we arrange for the 354th MPAD to interview Army veterans. It’s a wonderful experience for our WW II vets to talk with today’s uniformed soldiers, and I think the Reservists feel the same way.”
We were also joined by Nick Wells of Mt. Lebanon, an active member of our volunteer creative team. Nick was instrumental in helping us greet veterans and prepare them for their interviews.
Joseph H. Goldbach Jr., 90 of Crescent Twp., passed away on Monday November 10, 2014 in his home. He was born in Imperial, PA on October 21, 1924, the son of the late Joseph Goldbach Sr. and Bertha (Engbert) Goldbach. He retired from J&L Steel as a millwright. He was a US Army veteran serving in World War II.
Joseph was a member of St. Catherine of Sienna Parish. He was a member of the Moon Flyers, Flying Aces Club in Erie, Beaver County Model Airplane Club and the Pittsburgh A.R.C.S.
He is survived by his five children; Cheryl Lewis, Crescent; Karen Jablonski, Crescent. George Goldbach (Marybeth), Sewickley; John Goldbach, Sewickley; Eric Goldbach (Shawna), Aliquippa. Eleven grandchildren: David Nichol (Shelley), Carla Brown (Fred), Devon Goldbach (Heather), Geoffrey Jablonski (Jessica), Geremy Jablonski (Amy), Darren Goldbach (Rachel), Kiley Jablonski (Nate), Aislinn Goldbach, Marlee Goldbach, Lucas Goldbach, Bryce Goldbach (Kate). Seven great grandchildren: Mackenzie Nichol, Gabriel Brown, Keaghan Nichol, Siren Goldbach, Ayiana Brown, Jordan & Jaxon Jablonski. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years Rhea Jean Goldbach; a son, Joseph Goldbach; a brother George Goldbach; and three sisters Bertha Garcia, Josephine Farrell, and Mary Lukon. Friends will be received in The Huntsman Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Moon Twp. where a funeral service will be held. Interment will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park.