Memorial Day & The Filipowski Family

Posted at 7:52 PM, May 29, 2017

This is my dad.

He’s a two star admiral in the Navy and has been at the Nation’s call since 1982.

He’s sailed around the globe, under the oceans, served on the front lines and if you were to ask him, to hell and back in some cases.

While my family has been fortunate to have my dad return unharmed, he bears the scars of war – friends who have made the ultimate sacrifice - though he’s not one to talk about what’s he seen in his 35 years of duty.

My family has a long history of military service.  My grandfather served as did his six brothers.

My great Uncle Leonard served in the United States Navy. He was a Navy Ordnanceman and Aerial Gunner during World War II.

His plane went down in the Pacific, between Mainland Japan and Iwo Jima, shortly after this photo was taken in April of 1945.  He was listed as missing in action, presumed dead — on this day 72 years ago. 

(Bottom Left: Leonard Filipowski)

He never returned home to Goshen, New York, to see his brothers, my grandfather, or his mom and dad.

He was 20 years old.

I was lucky enough to grow up overseas in Japan, and I remember my dad explaining that where we lived on the military base was near where it is believed his uncle’s plane last saw land.

There is an untold cost to freedom. 

You often hear about defense spending and the billions of dollars allocated to the budget to ensure our military continues to be the best in the world.

The true cost is found in Arlington and military grave sites throughout the country, and world, amongst small American flags and silence.

That cost includes the memories veterans carry with them – of their fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coat Guardsmen who all have given their life to defend our way of life.





Memorial Day may be looked as a holiday for some, but it’s really a day of remembrance for our fallen, always.


This is a journal entry from my great Uncle Leonard:

“After the war what then Mr. Scientist?

Undoubtedly, new inventions will follow this terrible conflict.  If you can think and visualize in the future as far as I can, you can see rocketships and different kinds of ray guns.

The other planets will turn up in the space of years and daily life will be made to them.
The P-40 and the (illegible) our two best fighters will seem the same in the future as the Wright brother’s plane looks today.

War will go on, if not on this continent, it is probable that the other planets will make war.  The space from our planet to another will be like that of New York to Japan. War will go on, for it only knows (illegible).

Peace will be had when the world is at end. The next future will be heaven or hell for everyone.”

This is the letter the Navy sent to my great grandparents and great Aunt Rosalie, who had mailed a letter to her brother, Leonard, which he never received.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Filipowski:

A letter from Rosalie Filipowski, dated 14 June 1945 and addressed to Chaplain Thomas F. Glynn, whom I relieved recently, has been referred to me for reply.

A week after Rosalie’s wrote her last letter to Leonard, his plane was reported missing as the result of enemy action. His plane failed to return from a routine strike and reconnaissance flight.

The cause of the plane's failure to return is undetermined. The crew knew they were in trouble. They sent out one message giving their position. Some two hours later, they sent out another message. This message was not plainly audible.

The next day a 300-mile fog bank made searching conditions impossible. The search continued for several days thereafter. No remains or wreckage have been found to date. The entire crew is reported as "missing".

Be assured that if any information in reference to the rescue of the crew aboard your son's plane should come to light, such news will be forwarded to you immediately.

It is not my intention to build any false hopes, but there is still a possibility that your son may have been able to reach an isolated island in the Pacific or that he was rescued by a ship in the area. It would naturally require considerable time for such news to reach his squadron commander.

In our church bulletin, dated 1 July 1945 (copy enclosed), you will note that your son is listed among the "missing". On that day, we conducted a memorial service for our brave shipmates.

The anguish that you are experiencing is understood and deeply felt by Leonard's Squadron Commander and his shipmates of Squadron 133. We salute you for the sacrifice made in the defense of our beloved country.
Allow me to add that I daily stand before the Altar of God, imploring his protection and mercy in behalf of our self-sacrificing servicemen.

May Our Divine Lord console you in this hour of uncertainty. It will be my privilege to commend you and your son to his divine mercy.

Very sincerely in Christ,
M. P. GANS, Lt. Comdr., USNR,
Catholic Chaplain