John Joseph Powers
PFC in 406th Engineer Combat Co
Military occupational specialty: 121 (utility repairman)
Born 1923 in NJ, Died 1991
County of residence at enlistment: Camden County, NJ
Other residence(s): Gloucester City, NJ; Runnemede, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
John Joseph Powers
Jack Powers was born on July 9, 1923 in Gloucester City, NJ, the second of five children. His father was a foreman at the Campbell Soup factory; his mother had been born in England.
He appears to have graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Gloucester City; he was still in high school at the time of the 1940 census. By the time he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, he was working at Campbell Soup.
Jack was one of 15 young men from Gloucester City who enlisted in the Army between March 15-22, 1943; all but three of them were 18 or 19 years old. On March 25, they found themselves on a train headed to Camp Gordon, Georgia. There they would join the newly activated 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion, and be assigned to Company A. That spring and summer they trained in Georgia and Tennessee, and that fall boarded a train for Camp Pilot Knob, aka the Desert Training Center, five miles from Yuma, Arizona (just inside the California border). In mid-January 1944, the commander of the 293rd received an order to detach his best company for a secret mission. He selected Company A, and by January 30, 1944 the men were back in Tennessee. On April 7, 1944, Company A of the 293rd was officially reassigned and renamed as the 406th Engineer Combat Company, and the unit boarded a ship to England in early May.
That July, as the men of the 406th headed across England on their way to the war, the train stopped in the city of Gloucester. Here the local NAAFI (the organization that runs recreation, canteens, and PXs for British servicemen) served them tea, which was quaffed amid cheers from the soldiers from Gloucester City, New Jersey.
After their service in the Ghost Army all 15 men returned to the states. They were feted on July 14, 1945 by the Third Ward Regular Democratic Club while back in Gloucester City on 30-day furloughs. Jack was discharged on November 23, 1945, with the rank of PFC, and returned to Gloucester City.
Jack sailed to England for two months in January-March, 1948. In April, 1952, he married Lucy Mignogna at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Camden, NJ. After their marriage he and Lucy moved to the Cramer Hill neighborhood in Camden, NJ, and became the parents of a daughter, Deborah.
Jack worked in several positions at Campbell Soup. In about 1965, he became a foreman; he worked at Campbell Soup for a total of 47 years.
Jack was an avid baseball fan. His daughter also reports that “he was a good and decent person who took all his responsibilities seriously. He came home from the war, went to work, had a family, and to me, his daughter, spoke little of the war.”
Jack was living in Runnemede, NJ when he died, on June 4, 1991. He is buried at New St. Mary's Cemetery in Bellmawr, NJ.
1942 draft card
1943 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 14 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers—all of them (plus others from the area) were being sent to Fort Dix for training
1945 article in the Morning Post (Camden, NJ) about him and 15 other Gloucester veterans of the 406th Engineers
1948 shipboard manifest from Southampton, England to NYC
1952 NJ marriage index
1991 VA death record
1991 Social Security Applications and Claims Index
1991 obituary in the Courier-Post (Camden, NJ)
2023 (July 17) GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from daughter, Deborah Powers Chudzinski
406th Unit History Compiled