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Gazo Steve Nemeth

T/5 in Signal Co, Special : Radio B

Military occupational specialty: 776 (radio operator, low speed)


Born 1922 in OH, Died 2020

County of residence at enlistment: Trumbull County, OH
Other residence(s): Youngstown, OH; Hubbard, OH; Ft Myers, FL
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: semiskilled cranemen, derrickmen, hoistmen, and shovelmen
College education before the war: 1 year
Source: Unit Shipment 10143-D, 23d HQ, from le Havre 23 June 1945; Ghost Army roster by state; photo courtesy Gazo Nemeth

Gazo Nemeth was born on May 30, 1922 in East Youngstown, OH. His steelworker father and his mother were both born in Hungary, and he was the fifth of seven children.

At the time of he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, he was working as a mason helper for Carnegie Illinois Steel Company, Ohio Works, in Youngstown. Four months later, he enlisted; his enlistment registration says that he had one year of college and was working in a semi-skilled construction occupation.

Gazo served in the Ghost Army as a radio operator during the war, and was discharged in November, 1945 with the rank of T/5. He married Carmella Altier on January 17, 1948, in Winchester, VA; they would go on to have two daughters: Linda and Barbara.

Gazo worked for 37 years as a union tool and die machinist with an office equipment corporation in Ohio; he also served for part of that time as Commander of his local VFW Post in Hubbard, OH.

Gazo and Carmella retired to Fort Myers, Florida with full union benefits and what was supposed to be a pension for life. Shortly after they moved, the corporation declared bankruptcy, his pension disappeared, and Gazo had to reinvent himself. He worked for a time with a small cell phone company, and was the crew leader for Lee County in the 2000 Census. He then took a job as mailroom courier with Robb & Stuckey, a Fort Myers furniture store. In a 2008 interview, while he was still working there, Gazo stated that his hobbies were swimming, biking, gardening, and home repairs. He retired from Robb & Stuckey, at the age of 87, to help care for his wife whose health had deteriorated. Carmella passed away in 2011.

Gazo Nemeth wearing one of his special jackets

Gazo then embarked on another reinvention, as a celebrity Ghost Army veteran. He and his second wife, Susan Oknefski, traveled to Europe with Rick Beyer on the Stephen Ambrose tour in 2014, and he also appeared over the next few years at events in Branson, MO, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Florida. Rick Beyer says of Gazo that he was a "great storyteller and a bigger than life character, he could literally charm the clothes off your back. I’ll never forget the time in Branson when he told performer Doug Gabriel that he admired his stage jacket–and Doug found another one to give to him! Branson performer Steve Presley also gifted him with one of his sequined jackets. Gazo wore them both with pride."

"I thought I'd get my 15 minutes of fame," Gazo said, "but it just keeps going on and on. . . . For 70 years I was nobody and this year I'm a celebrity, so I'm milking it for all I can."

He died on Christmas Day, 2020.


1930 census

1940 census

1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1948 marriage record

2001 article in Fort Myers, FL News-Press; interview

2008 article in Fort Myers, FL News-Press; interview

2014 interview in Expressions, the magazine of public TV station WGCU in Naples, FL

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