Company D, 511th PIR - KIA
October 24, 1924 - Feb 4, 1945 (KIA Age 20) - gravesite
Citations: Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the American Defense Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Battle Stars and one Arrowhead
American Legion Post #468 in Jackson, Wisconsin is named after S/Sgt. Gumm (post address: P.O. Box 485, Jackson, WI 53037)
Henry Frank Gumm was born in the village of Jackson, Wisconsin on October 24, 1924. He was a top-ranking athlete at West Bend High School, graduating in 1942. He entered La Crosse State Teachers College. He quit college to volunteer for induction into the Army and was transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington for basic training.
Upon completion of his basic training he was he was trained in advanced infantry and as a machine gunner. In September 1943 he volunteered as a paratrooper and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga. After rigorous training he qualified as a paratrooper and was awarded the coveted paratrooper’s wings and boots. He was then given a six-week course at a rigger school and assigned in February 1944 to train men.
In November 1944 he was sent to the West Coast and on November 17th called his parents from a camp in California to inform them he was leaving shortly for overseas. His first letter was from New Guinea, dated December 12, and received by the family shortly after Christmas.
In a letter to his parents dated January 17, 1945, while stationed in the Philippines, Staff Sgt Gumm said he had received no mail from home for a long while and was worried about the family. The Gumm family sent him a cablegram advising him all was well, but it is not known whether or not he received it.
Staff Sgt Gumm was in the battle of Leyte Gulf, and was killed at Imus, Luzon on February 4, 1945 during D Company's battle for a stone courtyard. A copy of a condolence letter signed by General Douglas MacArthur follows (see below).
Staff Sgt Gumm came from an illustrious family with an impressive military background. Three generations of Gumms have seen service in three different wars. John Peter Gumm, his grandfather, enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 at the age of 17 and saw action throughout all four years of the Civil War as a member of the 3rd regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He took part in the battles of Bolivar Heights, Winchester, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Peachtree Creek, and the siege of Atlanta and Savannah, and was a member of the West Bend Post of the G.A.R.
His father, Clarence Gumm, was a corporal in World War I, serving for eight months in France in a motor division.
The Gumm Family was the first in the Country to hang a 4-Star Flag for sons in World War II. The oldest son, John enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 and was stationed at McChord Field, Washington before being transferred to an undisclosed location. The second son, 1st Sgt. Clarence Gumm, Jr was inducted into the Army in January 1942. He was in the anti-aircraft division, heavy construction artillery. The third son, Marvin, went into the Army Ordnance Division at Camp Santa Anita, California.
The Gumm family is very proud of their boys, and their mother finds time from her letter-writing to the boys to volunteer for the Red Cross, operating the county First Aid station. His parents are shown in the following photograph hanging their four star flag for their sons in World War II.
If you would like to learn more about Henry's exploits within and the history of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II, please consider purchasing a copy of the book WHEN ANGEL'S FALL: FROM TOCCOA TO TOKYO, THE 511TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT IN WORLD WAR II, available in the regimental online store, on Amazon or wherever military history books are sold.