Harold "Hesh" Kaplan
Iyyar 16, 5769
January 6, 1920
May 9, 2009
"Harold - his friends called him ""Hesh"" - was born in the Bronx and attended local schools. He went to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, which was dedicated to gifted students. On October 2, 1941, he was inducted into the Army and assigned to Co. A, 1st Battalion, 11th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division in Fort Knox, KY. In January 1942, he was sent overseas on the Queen Mary, then a troop ship, in preparation for the Allies first major offensive of the war. On November 8, 1942, he was among the first American ground troops in action against Rommel's Afrika Corps in a battle west of Oran in Algeria. They took the La Senia Airport in combat with the Vichy French and were victorious throughout the North African campaign. His unit was then sent to Italy and helped secure the Anzio Beach Head and the breakout that swept past Rome and north to Groseto. He returned to the U.S. in September 1944 for R&R and was reassigned to the West Point Military Academy, where he finished his enlistment and received his honorable discharge on September 6, 1945.
Hesh's sponsor, Club Pal, was a group started in the Bronx by four 11 year-old-boys in March 1931. The Great Depression visited unspeakable hardships on the boys' families but they persevered and soon the Club counted 20. Sports kept the boys together; they started with stickball in the streets to football in Crotona Park. They loved football. They played hard and they were competitive and they played in a sophisticated league, but they won the championship in a game at Randall's Island Stadium. They had fun and grew up carefree and hopeful. Then the war came and 16 of the 20 went into service. One was killed when his plane was shot down over northern Italy; one was wounded, twice; a half dozen were in combat and the remainder served in carious capacities. After the war, all were married--many to neighborhood girls--and they all raised families. They were a diverse group of professionals and white and blue collar workers. Now, in 2009, there are three survivors, all octogenarians, one less than the number they started with 78 years ago.
Hesh was an intrepid warrior who loved his fellow tankers, Club Pal and his country.
Served from October 2, 1941 to September 5, 1945
Private First Class
4 Battle Stars