Skip to main content

Allison Muir Severe

T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co D

ASN#17059153 Casualty: Wounded

Born 1922 in VA


County of residence at enlistment: Leavenworth County, KS
Other residence(s): Baltimore, MD
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: clerks, general office
College education before the war: 2 years
College education after the war: Maryland Institute College of Art
Notes: Rank changed from PVT in GA roster since he was promoted to T/5 and transferred to HQ Co after dinner roster was published. Bugler at several medal presentations while unit was in Luxembourg; Purple Heart awarded in 1948
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; photo courtesy Ted Severe

Al Severe was born on June 29, 1922 in Arlington, VA; he was an only child. He grew up in Baltimore; his father was a contractor with the US Veteran Corps.

He was active in Boy Scouting, attending his first Boy Scout Jamboree in Washington, DC in 1937. His son Ted reports that he was also a semi-professional magician in his youth, a hobby which he continued to pursue throughout his life. He graduated from Charlotte Hall Military Academy in Maryland in 1939.

When he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, he was living with his family at Fort Leavenworth, KS, where his father was stationed. He was working at the Post Exchange--a summer job?--and stated that he had two years of college.

He enlisted on September 1, 1942, and, as an artist, found himself in the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion of the Ghost Army.

Al went overseas with the unit, and was hospitalized several times while overseas--in the winter of 1944 with pneumonia, in the summer of 1944 with a back injury, and in the first half of 1945 with injuries to his hands and feet from cold exposure. He was invalided home from that hospital; discharged with the rank of T/5.

After his return to the states, he married Eleonore Esther "Penny" Pennekamp, on September 14, 1946, and went to work as a commercial artist. One of his designs was the logo lettering for Winston cigarettes. He resumed his studies part-time at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, graduating with a BFA, and a concentration in lettering, in 1953.

In 1946-47, he was commissioned to make a presentation page to be custom-bound into a Bible to be used for the inauguration of Mayor-Elect Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's father); 7-year-old Nancy held the Bible at his swearing-in.

Al was a stamp and coin collector; he'd collected Luxembourg stamps with Seymour Nussenbaum while there with the Ghost Army, and exhibited these at the Centenary International Philatelic Exhibition in New York in May, 1947.

He was also involved in a fascinating day's adventure in 1949, when an Edgar Allan Poe stamp was issued by the US Postal Service. The Baltimore Philatelic Society (BPS) was thrilled to learn this stamp was being released, but less happy to find that the first day covers would be mailed from Richmond, VA and not from Baltimore. So the BPS arranged for an Eastern Airlines representative to be waiting at the Richmond PO on October 7, to buy part of the first block of stamps and head back to the Richmond airport. Waiting at the Baltimore airport was Al Severe, representing the BPS, along with several others, including a representative of the Poe Society. After a brief ceremony, they hurried to the main post office in Baltimore, affixed the stamps to their own first-day covers (probably designed by Al), and watched while the postal employee hand-cancelled them.

He definitely designed the first day covers for a special exhibit at Maryland Institute College of Art in 1954.

Al worked as an artist for some period in the 1950s for Royal Dadmun & Associates, a design and marketing firm in Baltimore. He then became an art teacher in the Baltimore County public schools, and later in the Baltimore city public schools. He remained with the city school system until he retired in 1983, finishing as a commercial art/sign shop teacher at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical HS.

Al's son Ted reports that Al became a freemason in 1945, and was a Boy Scout leader when his sons (Theodore, Kenneth, David, and Jacques) were involved in Scouting. He also held various Boy Scout summer camp positions in Maryland and Pennsylvania. He received a number of awards for his Boy Scout work including the Silver Beaver Award from the Baltimore Area Council, the Lamb Award from the Lutheran Church, and, posthumously, the Shofar Award from the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. He also applied his art skills to the benefit of the Boy Scouts, designing numerous embroidered patches for the Baltimore Area Council.

He died on December 27, 1985 in Baltimore, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, as is his father. Penny was interred with Al at Arlington after her death in 2011.


1946 wedding photo


1922 birth record

1930 census

1940 census

1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1944 WW2 hospital admission file

1944 WW2 hospital admission file

1945 WW2 hospital admission file

1946 marriage record

1946 article in the Baltimore Sun (MD) re a scroll he hand lettered

1947 article in the Baltimore Sun (MD) re his stamp collecting

1949 article in the Baltimore Sun (MD) re his stamp collecting

1953 article in the Baltimore Sun (MD) re his graduation

1954 article in the Baltimore Sun (MD) re a design of his

1957 Baltimore city directory

1960 father's obituary in Baltimore Sun (MD),0.42225474,0.25226948,0.4967785&xid=3355&_ga=2.81783573.346693784.1615237029-83527741.1614370813&ancestry=true

1985 Find a Grave record

1985 Social Security death index

2021 (March 23)  GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from son Ted Severe.

Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!