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John Herald Buchanan "Hal" Starr

PFC in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co D, 2nd Platoon


Born 1920 in NJ, Died 2015


County of residence at enlistment: Essex County, NJ
Other residence(s): Orange, NJ; Tinton Falls, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: artists, sculptors, and teachers of art
College education before the war: Pratt 3 years
College education after the war: Art Students League
Notes: Rank changed from PVT in GA Roster to PFC per New York Area Leave List; WWII enlistment record says birth in 1921
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; Bernie Mason Company D Roster; Bernie Mason photo of Company D in Trier with names on back

Herald Starr, usually known as Hal, was born on October 7, 1920 in Newark, NJ. He was the older of two children, and his father was an accountant with a copper mining company. By 1930 the family was living in Orange, NJ, and Hal attended Orange High School where he played in the high school orchestra, served as secretary/treasurer of the art club, and was a member of the movie club.

After graduating from high school in 1939, he found his way to Pratt Institute in New York, where dozens of other Ghost Army veterans were studying. He registered for the draft on February 14, 1942 and enlisted on August 31, 1942, right after finishing his degree.

Like many of his classmates, he was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, and saw service in the European theater during the war.

After his discharge from the army, he went to work as a commercial artist. At some point, he also studied at the Art Students League in New York.

Hal married Mary Jo Gregory in November, 1953, and they would go on to become the parents of three: Joan, Carol, and Peter. They made their home in Tinton Falls, NJ and later back in his hometown of Orange.

At the time he married he was a graphic artist at Continental Can; later he went to work for International Paper. He finished his career post-retirement, when he spent the years from 1985-1995 as a graphic designer for Ariston Industries in Hillside, NJ.

Hal's wife, Mary Jo, died in 1993 but Hal lived to be 94, dying on April 22, 2015. He is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Orange, NJ.

A friend named Bill Gregory commented about Hal after his death as follows: "Hal shared his many interesting observations about everything. His raw materials included what he drew out of others with skillful questioning and his insights about the events of the day or whatever. He was very loving, which is obvious from seeing his family. He was engaging and helpful. He brought more love into the world. We will miss you, Hal, and your spirit lives on."


1930 census

1938 high school yearbook

1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1944 WW2 hospital admission card files

1953 engagement announcement in the New York Times

1953 marriage record

2015 NJ death index

2015 Find a Grave record with obituary

2015 Funeral Home tribute wall

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