T/4 Joseph A. Whitesell
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.
Technician fourth grade (T/4 or TEC4) Joseph A. Whitesell was a member of the Army Signal Corps, attached to the 295th Joint Assault Signals Company (JASCO) - these were units comprised of Army, Navy, and Army Air Corps communications specialists to link land, sea, and air operations.
Side note: the Technician rank was created in January 1942 and accorded those who had specialized skills that were rewarded with a higher pay grade. T/4s were considered to be noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and were often addressed as "Sergeant."
Whitesell enlisted March 2, 1943 at Camp Blanding, Florida. His enlistment record indicates his State of birth as Pennsylvania and his education as 3 years of High School.
There is an item in the February 1, 1942 Miami Herald, page 3-D about the Senior Class at Miami Edison HS putting on a play, "Young April" by Aurania and William Spence Rouverol on Friday night, January 30, 1942. Among the cast is listed a "Joe Whitesell." It's not clear if this Joe is our Joseph, and it would be nice to verify. Where might we find a 1942 Edison Yearbook?
In terms of Joe's home, I found undated reference to C.A. Whitesell (his father, Claire) at 148 SE 4th Street in Hialeah, three blocks North of the CVS on Hialeah Drive, just across the bridge. There is also the 1945 Florida Census which confirms Whitesell's parents and his younger brother lived at 389 Pinecrest Drive in Miami Springs.
T/4 Joseph A. Whitesell of the 295th JASCO, received a Silver Star for gallantry in action against the enemy on Saipan, July 7, 1944. A radio operator serving with a naval gunfire team attached to an infantry battalion of the 27th Division, he was caught in an enemy counterattack, which killed many officers of the unit. Organizing a new defense line, he helped fight off the Japanese, looked after the wounded, and heartened the defenders. He refused to withdraw when he himself received a wound and fought on until fatally hit. Whitesell died July 10, 1944 at the age of 20.
Honoring him, the Signal Corps on 14 January 1955 named a new dial telephone exchange building at Fort George Meade, Maryland, the Whitesell Memorial Building. I contacted Ft. Meade, and the Media Relations specialist there confirmed that the building still exists and is still very much in use (although we can assume no longer as a "dial telephone exchange") and that security considerations prohibit us from being able to post a photo of the building. They did however, persuade the security officers to bring the framed memorial for Whitesell outside to be photographed.
Whitesell was surived by his father, Claire A. Whitesell, his mother, Mary C. Whitesell, and younger brother, Claire Jr., who would have been about 12 years old.
He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Plot F, 1278. Honolulu, Hawaii.
If you have photos, memorabilia, or further information regarding Whitesell or his family and their connection to Miami Springs, please let me know, you can email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Silver Star Citation - Click the text above for full page
The Whitesell Research Dossier