Skip to main content

Irving Mayer

PVT in 406th Engineer Combat Co

Military occupational specialty: 533 (demolition specialist)

ASN#32862509

Born 1923 in NY, Died 1959

County of residence at enlistment: Kings County, NY
Other residence(s): Brooklyn, NY in 1942; Dover, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: Pratt 1 year
College education after the war: Pratt
Notes: BS in mechanical engineering from Pratt
Source: Special Order 19, 23d HQ, Camp Forrest, 7 April 1944; Bernie Mason Company A, B Roster; militaryyearbookproject.org/references/old-mos-codes/wwii-era/army... bio info from The Ghost Army by Beyer/Sayles; photo from Mayer Collection, GALP Archive

Irving Mayer was born on November 19, 1923, in Brooklyn, NY, the older of two sons. His father had been born in Poland, and his mother in Romania.

Like a number of other Ghost Army soldiers, Irv attended Pratt Institute. During his freshman year, he attended an on-campus presentation from Army recruiters. The need for intelligent, creative men to form a top-secret, tactical deception unit, resulted in his enlisting in the 23 HQ Special Troops.

He'd been drafted on June 30, 1942, at which time he was working at Singer Manufacturing in Bridgeport, CT. He enlisted on March 13, 1943.

Along with the other 155 men of the 406th Combat Engineers Company, he was trained in real combat and provided perimeter security for the Ghost Army. During Operation Brest, Irv grabbed and tossed a live grenade from his crowded transport, possibly saving his friends in the 406th from severe injury.

After the war, Irv returned to Pratt and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He then went to work on military weapons during the Cold War. Starting in 1953, he and two scientists based at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey developed the first nuclear weapon that could be utilized by infantry. The Davy Crockett nuclear warhead system was deployed in West Germany as a first-time defense against a possible Russian invasion through Berlin.

Irv and his wife Sandy became the parents of two sons: Kenneth and Robert. They made their home in Dover, NJ.

He died on August 17, 1959. Two years later, in May 1961, President Kennedy sent a letter to the three inventors (which was accompanied by a cash award; Irv's was presented to his widow) acknowledging their service to the country and "significant contributions to the defense of the United States."

Irv is buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery in Randolph, NJ.

Sources:

1940 census

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/8835009:2442?tid=&pid=&queryId=706039e64e2c7ecddf9cc2d836f8aedd&_phsrc=Onn10&_phstart=successSource

1942 draft card

https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2238&h=194569489&tid=&pid=&queryId=359a396cd85bcf53f199bf5f29899e7d&usePUB=true&_phsrc=Onn4&_phstart=successSource

1942 enlistment record

https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=8939&h=7403635&tid=&pid=&queryId=359a396cd85bcf53f199bf5f29899e7d&usePUB=true&_phsrc=Onn5&_phstart=successSource

1959 Find a Grave record

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8667113/irving-mayer

1961 article in Army Research and Development, a monthly newsmagazine, re the Davy Crockett project

https://asc.army.mil/docs/pubs/alt/archives/1961/Jun_1961.PDF

Ghost Army website, biographical details

https://ghostarmy.com/bio/f/Stories/pg0/391

updated: 3 months ago

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!