Saturday, December 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Slain soldier’s son to get lost medal, answers

John Trinca

In this Thursday, July 31, 2014, photo, veteran John Trinca stands outside his home in Antioch Township, Ill. Trinca was with U.S. Army Pvt. Thomas Bateman, a soldier he had just met in the Philippines in 1945 in World War II when Bateman was killed from Japanese machine gun fire. The Purple Heart that Bateman paid for with his life became lost and was eventually found in the 1950s by Tom McAvoy as a kid in Chicago. Trinca will be on hand Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, when the Purple Heart will be returned to Bateman’s family in Grayslake, Ill. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Paul Valade)

By
From page A6 | August 03, 2014 |

CHICAGO — John Trinca couldn’t remember the name of the soldier who died right next to him minutes after they met during World War II, and all Thomas Bateman Jr. knew of his father’s death was that it happened in 1945 in the Philippines.

The two will meet for the first time Sunday thanks largely to Tom McAvoy, who made good on a quest to return a lost war medal he found as a child in Chicago that only had the recipient’s engraved name as a clue: Thomas Bateman.

This year – 69 years after a bullet from a Japanese machine gun killed Pvt. Thomas Bateman – their stories intersected for the first time, giving them answers to questions that tugged at them for years. At this weekend’s ceremony, the slain soldier’s son will receive the lost Purple Heart his father paid for with his life.

“I had a newspaper article that my grandmother kept that said he was killed and that’s about all I knew,” said Bateman, 69, who was just shy of his first birthday when his father was killed.

The men learned of one another thanks to Purple Hearts Reunited, a foundation that works to return the medals to their recipients or their recipients’ families. Zachariah Fike, a Vermont National Guard captain who was awarded the medal after he was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010, has managed to reunite about 100 Purple Hearts with their rightful owners since starting the foundation.

There’s a story behind each of the medals that have been returned, but none quite like that of Bateman, who was an infantryman with the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.

“To find the guy who found the medal, the guy with (Bateman) when he died and the son,” said Fike, who will present the medal to Bateman on Sunday. “This one sends chills.”

What is known about this medal begins in the 1950s, when McAvoy spotted it on the basement floor of his family’s Chicago apartment building while helping a janitor sort garbage. He gave it to his mother and forgot about it.

Then, about seven years ago, one of his brothers mentioned that he found a Purple Heart while going through their mother’s belongings after her death.

“My brothers and I, we said, ‘We have to find out who this person is and give it to the family,'” said McAvoy, 74.

After some calls to VFW halls and other efforts came up empty, someone put him in touch with a woman involved with veterans’ issues. That led to a call from a local state senator’s office, telling him about Fike.

McAvoy mailed the medal to Fike, who quickly recognized by the way it was engraved that Bateman had been killed in action. He soon reached out to Bateman Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, and the slain soldier’s son helped solve the mystery about how the medal ended up in the Chicago apartment building: His father’s mother once lived there. It’s still not known, though, how it ended up in the garbage and whether Bateman’s mother still lived there at the time.

Fike’s search also led him to Trinca, a retiree who had recently told a newspaper about how he finally learned the name of the soldier he saw killed more than 60 years earlier and had bought a memorial brick with the soldier’s name on it to honor him.

Trinca was 19 years old on June 3, 1945, when a new guy joined his unit. The two talked long enough to realize they had both lived in Chicago. The soldier had told him his name but, “You know, you’re going into combat and it went in one ear and out the other,” said Trinca, now 88. “I figured that night we’d talk some more.”

About 15 minutes later while on patrol in Mindanao, an island in the Philippines, Trinca heard gunfire and saw banana leaves being suddenly shredded by bullets.

“I turned my head and heard this sound of him being hit,” said Trinca. “His helmet was over his eyes and he was dead. He died on my shoulder.”

Maybe it was combat stress or the death two days later of a good buddy, but Trinca said he was unable to recall the soldier’s name when he tried and that he didn’t think to try finding someone who did know it.

This bothered Trinca as he got older, so he started asking around. A few years ago, he mentioned it to a guy in his division who was compiling its history, and he got back to Trinca before long with a name: Thomas Bateman.

Trinca said he was excited to meet the son of the man he saw die and to tell him whatever he can about that day and time.

Bateman now has an answer to a question that troubled him through the years: His father did not suffer. But all he knows of his father’s military experience is the date of his death and the place in the Philippines where he’s buried and he’s eager to learn more.

“I want to know what the weather was, know where they were (and) I’d like to know everything about the moment he died and what life was like over there,” he said. “All these years I had no one to ask these questions before.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Creche collection grows in size, popularity

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Handmade Christmas display is man’s labor of love

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
 
Company competition a big win for charity

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Meeting a great role model at any age

By Murray Bass | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

Fairfield police log: Dec. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Weather for Dec. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Island park in San Francisco Bay closed for weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Wetter than usual start to new year in California predicted

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Hospital to pay $2.2M to settle false claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Napolitano named as UC public policy professor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Man shocked 20 times during jail booking sues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

Notorious California graffiti suspect arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Animal rights activists take California rodeo to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California’s bullet train settles 1 of 7 lawsuits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Tuskegee Airman Lowell Steward dies in California at 95

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Theater shooter’s parents plead for his life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Driver pleads not guilty in pedestrian deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
5 ways to make your email safer in case of a hack attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Celebrities react to latest Sony hack developments

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sony on shelving ‘The Interview': ‘We had no choice’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 5 Comments

AP Interview: Coelho says Sony hack threatens all

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Jury rules for Indiana woman in firing over IVF

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Bergdahl investigation wraps up; top leaders get briefings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Texas eatery worker gets mink coat from customer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Sugarland, promoter settle with state fair victims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NY police officer suspended after videotaped punch

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Prepackaged caramel apples linked to 4 deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Supreme Court won’t stop gay marriages in Florida

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Staples: Customer data exposed in security breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Lava could reach Hawaii shopping center in 8 days

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Israel carries out airstrike on Hamas site in Gaza

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Pakistan executes militants and bombards tribal areas

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Franciscan religious order in ‘grave’ financial crisis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Australian woman arrested in deaths of 8 children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Opinion

Yes, Virginia, the Santa wish list has gone digital

By Petula Dvorak | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
If you want to help the poor, fix the safety net

By Jim Tankersley | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Dec. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Dec. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Pampered pets that don duds move to the mainstream

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B11

Children from wife’s first marriage put father’s ashes in coffin

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B11

 
.

Entertainment

More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kim Jong Un game spoof ‘Glorious Leader!’ moving forward

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Marathon bombing survivor in ‘Yes to Dress’ finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kid Rock to perform pre-race concert at Daytona 500

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Actor Stephen Collins denies he’s a pedophile in interview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Dodge, Vaca grad Mason lead Southern Oregon to NAIA title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders haven’t needed much from Janikowski

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
AP sources: Peavy agrees on $24M, 2-year deal with Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

FIFA will not reopen 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Howe’s family reports rapid improvement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

2 Armstrong associates settle lawsuit with Landis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rays, Padres, Nats complete 11-player trade involving Myers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Vanden girls open Nike TOC with win on Arizona

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Things to know about Friday’s baseball news

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rookie receivers making their mark in NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former boxing champ Ernie Terrell dies at 75

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Gold medalist Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, avoids jail time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dodgers end Yanks’ payroll streak, owe most tax

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

CIF football bowl games headed to Sacramento

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
Cal men beat Eastern Washington 78-67 for seventh straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

This date in sports history for Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

California unemployment rate dips to 7.2 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Chrysler gives in to gov’t, expands air bag recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

T-Mobile paying at least $90M for unwanted services

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
EPA sets first national standard for coal waste

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Sales for holiday shopping season comes down to the wire

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Marian Kay Zutz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Judy Zamora Rogers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Dominic C. Scolaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Home Seller 12/20/14

Real estate transactions for Dec. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Ask a Designer: decorating with Christmas trees

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2