David Rosenkrantz is one of the many unsung heroes whose lives, cut short by the horrors of war, are honored on Memorial Day. Born in 1916, Staff Sergeant Rosenkrantz joined the army in January, 1942. Volunteering for the Airborne, he was part of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) and trained at Fort Benning and Fort Bragg.

Sergeant Rosenkrantz first experienced major action in the capture of Sicily from the Italian armed forces. Actually, in what could have been a major tragedy, he became a hero. During their parachute jump onto the island, Sergeant Rosenkrantz and Corporal Lee Black were separated from their company. They landed in a remote area and came upon 200 Italian soldiers who immediately surrendered. The prisoners were brought to camp and, after Sicily was secured, the 504th PIR went on to fight in Italy. There they played such a significant role in battle near Anzio, that the Germans nicknamed them “the Devils in Baggy Pants.”

After recuperating in England from heavy losses in Italy, the 504th PIR was assigned to “Operation Market Garden,” which sent them into Holland. Their mission was to capture bridges near the towns of Grave and Nijmegen.

On September 28, 1944, Rosenkrantz’s H Company arrived at a farmhouse called Den Heuvel. Noticing enemy troops in the distance, Sergeant Rosenkrantz stood up to fire, but he had not realized that there were enemies behind as well. He was hit by machine gun fire. Although the fatal encounter was witnessed by other soldiers, Sergeant Rosenkrantz’s remains were lost in the heat of the battle, and he was officially listed as “Missing in Action.”

While Sergeant Rosenkrantz’s body was not initially recovered, and after being lost for over 68 years, Sergeant Rosenkrantz’s dog tags were returned to his family in 2011. It is interesting to note that the tags are marked with a “J” for Jewish, emphasizing how frightful it must have been to a young Jewish soldier to put himself in Nazi territory.

Miraculously, after 73 years of being “Missing in Action,” the Army identified the remains of Sergeant Rosenkrantz, and returned them to his family. His remains arrived at Los Angeles International Airport with an honor guard on July 17, 2018, and his funeral was held on July 20, 2018.

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