Student's work honors WWII hero from Butler
With bullets whizzing past him, his face horribly mangled from a mortar shell blast, Cpl. John Joseph Pinder Jr. refused to fall as he and his fellow soldiers stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944 — his 32nd birthday.
Trying to contain the bleeding from his face with one hand, Pinder grasped radio equipment in the other, dragging it to shore, according to eyewitness accounts in military archives.
Despite protests from fellow soldiers, he ran under fire back into the mined water several times to salvage communications equipment. He was shot in both legs on one trip, but still managed to carry the equipment to shore. He helped set up the equipment while under fire until he was fatally hit and died on the beach.
The story of Pinder, a 1931 Butler High School valedictorian, Medal of Honor winner and 2012 Butler High Distinguished Graduate, is now also featured on a website, thanks to Emily Keating, a junior at Carlisle High School in Cumberland County.
Her work profiling Pinder is featured by the Silent Heroes Project on the website of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
“I honestly don't have words to describe him,” Keating said. “I just wish I could go back in time and give him a big hug. I think he would have been a great role model for any young child or any young adult.”
According to online records, Pinder was born in Burgettstown, Washington County, but his family moved to Butler Township when he was young. After his graduation, Pinder went on to a promising pitching career, playing in 1935 for the Butler Indians, who became the next year the Butler Yankees, a New York Yankees affiliate. He played for several minor league teams until August 1941, when he registered for the draft.
Pinder had seen combat in several other battles before his death during the D-Day landings.
“The radio and other supplies that Cpl. Pinder brought ashore were the only means of communications that the Regimental Command Post had at that time,” wrote platoon leader Lt. Leeward W. Stockwell in the paperwork submitted for Pinder's Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously on Jan. 4, 1945. “The determination and heroic actions of Cpl. Pinder were a guide and inspiration to every man on the beach who was a witness to the unhesitating devotion to duty shown by him even after being so seriously wounded.”
Students in Keating's advanced placement U.S. history class at Carlisle High School received an assignment to identify a serviceman who died on D-Day and to create a lasting tribute.
Keating said she found an obituary for Joe Pinder's brother, Harold, of Ross, who died in 2008, himself a decorated Army World War II veteran. Harold Pinder and his wife, Gene, were involved in Scouting. Keating recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, so the Pinders sparked her interest.
“I thought (Joe Pinder) would be an interesting person to research, and I've never looked back,” said Keating, 17, the daughter of Jaime and Kathleen Keating, of Carlisle.
Laura Marks, 60, of Mercer, said that her father, Harold Pinder, also a decorated Army World War II veteran, admired his older brother and constantly spoke of him.
“I can't express how pleased my father would be if he was alive,” Marks said of Keating's project. “In our eyes, (Joe Pinder) was a great hero.”
Pinder's story is available at johnjpinderjr.weebly.com or by going to the National World War II Museum's website at mymemorialday.org, then clicking on “Students Remember” tab at the bottom of the home page.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.