Joseph, Roosevelt W. (801st)

Roosevelt W. Joseph 4Roosevelt W. Joseph

Biography:  Roosevelt William Joseph “Bill” was born on January 10, 1922, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Isaac Jeremiah Joseph and Asly (Elsie) Malick and graduated from Christian Fenger High School in 1940. Bill then worked as a bricklayer. His enlistment record indicates he may have also had some experience as a stock clerk.

Service Time:  Bill entered the service on December 11, 1942, at Camp Grant, Illinois. After his initial training, he was assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them at a number of military facilities within the U.S. During his training, he qualified as a Sharpshooter with the Sub-machine gun and as a Marksman with the rifle.

On January 26, 1943, while on leave from the unit, Bill married the former Dorothy Ann Karney who was born in Chicago and was the daughter of John James Karney Sr. and Anna Hodul.

Roosevelt W. Joseph 2The unit then shipped from Boston, Massachusetts on February 28, 1944, on the H.M.S. Britannic, and arrived in England on March 11th. Originally trained with self-propelled tank destroyers, they were converted to the three-inch towed anti-tank gun and landed at Utah Beach on June 13th, participating in the capture of Cherbourg, France.

The photo on left is Bill in his 1940, high school graduation photo.

Fighting in the Mortain counterattack in early August, they reached the outskirts of Paris on August 25th and entered Belgium on September 8th, followed by Germany on September 12th. They supported operations in the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest beginning in late November.

The unit continued their attack and was on the front line in the Battle of the Bulge, in the Ardennes, when the German offensive struck on December 16th. They moved to Aachen, Germany, in February, 1945, and crossed the Roer River on the February 25th, reaching the Rhine River south of Düsseldorf. The unit crossed the Rhine near Wessel on March 29th and supported the drive to the Ruhr, then turning east to the Elbe River.

Roosevelt W. Joseph 1They transferred south and supported operations in the Harz Mountains in late April and converted to M18 tank destroyers late that month. Crossing the Danube, they reached the Inn River, outside Hitler’s birthplace, Brunnau, Austria, by May 8th (VE Day).

Bill received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. Bill was awarded the Bronze Star, the EAME and the Good Conduct Medals. He left the service on September 29, 1945, at Fort Sheridan, IL, at the rank of Technician 5th Grade. 

Honorable Discharge

Bill returned home to Dorothy and the couple would make their home in Chicago. Bill went back to bricklaying and also bartending. He later worked as a restaurant manager. He and Dorothy had two sons, William, born in 1943, and James “Jim” in 1956. In his spare time, he was also a member of the Assyrian-American Amvet Post #5. Bill later married the former Frances L. Melia. The couple would have two daughters, Dina and Tina.

Roosevelt W. Joseph 3Bill passed away on August 7, 2009, and was buried in the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. I want to thank Bill’s son, Jim, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.