Traynor, Harry E. (704th)

Harry-Traynor-704TDBnHarry E. Traynor

Biography:  Harry Edward Traynor was born on November 8, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of William Francis Traynor and Minerva Frances Cameron and attended local schools in Philadelphia through the 10th grade.

Service Time:  Harry enlisted in the service on June, 17, 1942 and was assigned to the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion.  The 704th saw action throughout Europe.  During a battle in the Bannholz Woods (Sinz-Nennig area) in Germany, Harry’s tank destroyer, “Blondie”, was hit by two Panther tanks.  Harry was wounded and picked up and treated by German medics.  He ended up as a POW and at some point, he and two RAF pilots were able to make their escape.  They were eventually picked up by soldiers of the 6th Armored Division.  Harry reached the rank of T/4 during his time in the service and received the following awards; Motor Vehicle Driver’s Badge, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Campaign Stars, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal and POW Medal. He also shared in the unit’s award of the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.

Unfortunately, during that same battle, Harry’s best friend, John F. Prusaczyk, who was the Commander of the Blondie crew, was killed.  In 1995, a Luxembourger found the engraved canteen cup of John and returned it to Harry.  Harry kept it until he passed away.  You can see a photo of John’s grave marker as well as the tin cup in the Photo Gallery for the 704th.

After the war, Harry returned home to Philadelphia and in August 1945, he married the former Lillian Gansser. The new couple would have two children, a son Harry Jr. and a daughter Barbara. In 1952, Harry and Lillian’s relationship would end and Harry would later marry the former Regina Marie Mears. They would have a son Joseph , adopt a daughter Sharri and have another child Stacie.

Harry Jr. would go on to serve in Vietnam as part of the U.S Air Force. During the 1990’s, the senior Harry made his residence in the Williamstown area of New Jersey and was retired after 40 years as a fuel truck driver.

He was a member of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion Association.  In an effort to preserve the history of his experiences in WWII, Harry contributed two articles to the book, Men of the 704 – A Pictorial and Spoken History of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion.  The book was published in 1998 by Saint Vincent College and their Center for Northern Appalachian Studies.  Harry passed away on October 11, 2003.  He was buried at Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Williamstown, New Jersey.

Thank you to Erwin Verholen and to Harry’s daughter Barbara for providing information and photos for this tribute.  Erwin was a long-time friend of Harry’s and they communicated often.  The photo below, sent to Erwin, shows Harry during the 1990’s.