CPL Elmer F. Park
Here's the information I've been able to compile thus far. Note that anything that is either speculative or not properly sourced will be in italics.
Corporal Elmer F. Park served in Charlie Co., 894th TD (Tank Destroyer) Battalion, 5th Army.
1940 Census shows the Park Family living at 6620 NW F.E.C. Canal Road. Can anyone help me relate that to present street names? Other addresses on that census page list the "S.A.L. Hotel Quarters, which I suspect stands for Seaboard Air Lines RR.)
At that time, Elmer's father Walter listed his occupation as a farmer, and his mother Bernice listed occupation was School Cafeteria Cook. Elmer, then 19, is identified as a building laborer who worked fulltime the prior year, but had been out of work (and looking) for roughly half a year as of May 1940.
The Thursday before Easter, April 10, 1941, the Miami Herald story reported 99 men were to depart the Seaboard Air Line Railway station that morning for Camp Blanding, Florida (near the city of Starke) for induction into the Army. Elmer F. Park of S. Canal Drive, Hialeah was among them.
Christmas 1941 found the newly-designated 894th TD Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia. The men of Company "C", commanded by Capt. Milton C. Taylor, feasted on Roast Turkey with Oyster Dressing and Giblet Gravy, as well as Virginia Baked Ham and Candied Yams.
March 8, 1942 the 894th moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. On August 6, 1942 the Battalion "shipped out" of New York on HMS Andes, a British transport -- arriving at Liverpool, England on August 17. Five months later, the 894th joined the fight, landing at Oran, Algeria January 17, 1943 as part of Operation Torch.
The photo at top captures a chance encounter between Private Park and PFC Paul Elder (also of "C" Co.) of Fort Lauderdale, FL in Italy. The photo is undated, but appeared March 21, 1944. The photo caption lists his address as 1329 Broadway, which later became known as Westward Drive, in Miami Springs.
Corporal Park was lost on May 29, 1944 near Rome, Italy. He was 24 years old. His tank destroyer was credited with knocking out three German tanks in battle in Africa and Sicily.
According to his obituary, published August 10, 1948, Park was survived by his parents, living at 1329 Westward Drive, a sister, Betty of Hialeah; and three brothers, Horace of North Miami; Tommy of Miami Springs; and Billy of Southern Missionary College, Chattanooga, TN.
Editor's note - I was surprised to learn that Corporal Park's body wasn't repatriated until the summer of 1948, nearly three full years after the war's end, and four years after his death.
A July 7, 1948 Miami Herald story names him as one of 10 Miamians who died in Italy during World War II being returned to the United States aboard the SS Carroll Victory, an Army transport ship operated by Lykes Brothers SS Company.
He is buried at City Cemetery - the oldest cemetery in Miami, created in 1887, one year after the City of Miami was incorporated. The cemetery is located at 1800 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami.
If you have photos, memorabilia, or further information regarding Elmer or his family and their time in South Florida, please let me know, you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org.