Cecil C. Copeland
Biography: Cecil Claude Copeland was born on April 7, 1917, in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Claude Clarence Copeland and Nettie M. Hale and attended school in Beaver Center, PA, through the grammar level. He then worked as a farmer and also on the Bessemer and/or Pennsylvania Railroads.
Service Time: Cecil entered the military on April 14, 1941, at Pittsburgh, PA. After his basic training, he was assigned to Company B of the 629th Tank Destroyer Battalion.The battalion was established later that same year at Fort Meade, Maryland, on December 15, 1941.
Cecil trained with the unit at a number of military facilities within the U.S., including camps located in Florida, California and Texas before receiving orders for overseas shipment. They shipped out from the New York port on January 1, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on the 9th.
After six months of additional training, they boarded transports and shipped to Normandy, France, disembarking at Omaha Beach on July 2nd. They were equipped with M10 tank destroyers and performed artillery missions in the Caumont sector. They joined the 30th Infantry Division in the fighting at Mortain in early August, and then supported the reduction of the Falaise Pocket.
The 629th participated in V Corps parade through Paris on August 29th and then advanced to Luxembourg by early September, supporting operations in the Hürtgen Forest and against the Siegfried Line. They shifted to the Ardennes sector on December 24th, and fought to eliminate the Bulge in January, 1945. The unit joined a renewed assault on the Siegfried Line in February and crossed the Rhine River into the Remagen bridgehead on March 11th.
Converted to the M36 tank destroyer that same month, they then participated in operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April. The unit conducted a road march south to Bavaria and reached the Isar River before ending offensive operations.
The 629th received credit for campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. B Company also received a Distinguished Unit Citation. Sadly Cecil’s awards were lost over the years and he left the service at the rank of Technician 4th Grade.
After returning to the U.S., Cecil went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad and also for PennDot (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation). In April of 1946, Cecil married the former Evelyn Phillis Cook, who was born in Milltown, PA, and was the daughter of John Cannon Cook and Myrtle Melissa Smith. The new couple would make their home in in Albion, PA and have ten children, Karen, born in 1945, Carolyn in 1947, Cecil in 1948, Sue in 1949, Linda in 1950, Bruce in 1951, Roxanne in 1953, Betty in 1954, Roger in 1955 and Rodney in 1957.
In addition to his large family, Cecil enjoyed hunting and farming in his spare time. He also trained dogs and worked on small engines. Cecil passed away on May 17, 1965, and was buried in the Albion Cemetery in Albion, PA.
I want to thank Cecil’s son Roger, and his grandson Nicholas, for providing the information and photos for this tribute. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor MrsJB, for the grave marker photo.