Written by Erwin de Mooij Wednesday, 03 April 2013 00:00I hope you will take the time to read this story.
I have been looking for the family of Ssg. Alexander P. McDermott for the last 12 years. The reason why I am still looking for family is that I want them to know that last Sept.15 a monument was unveiled in the Dutch town of Lisse in honor of him and his crew. I wasn’t able to find his family before the unveiling. I got in contact with almost all of the 12 families whose fathers and grandfathers were on the plane when it went down.
This story has been in the media both in America (http://www.santa clara weekly.com/2012/Issue-21/dutch_ city_ honors_wwii_hero_from_santa_ clara.html, http://www.examiner.net/opinions/ x836131443/David-Jackson-Dutch-town-to-honor-Lt-Gooch and http://portwashington.patch.com/articles/public-s-help-sought-in-finding-alexander-p-mcdermott-s-family)
And in Holland (http://www.hartvannederland.nl/nederland/zuid-holland/2012/lisse-herdenkt-omgekomen-bemanning-bommenwerper/)
On Sept. 26, 1944, the crew of the B-17 named Jayhawk got in their plane to bomb targets in Germany. The Lt. Gooch crew (Gooch was the pilot) had three substitutes with McDermott being one of them.
In those WWII years you were old when older then 28. McDermott was 42! He had a daughter who was born in 1930 named Joan. McDermott didn’t fly with one crew. He circulated, changing crews many times.
Substitutes were bad luck. When the B-17 returned from the mission the plane was hit by FLAK twice, killing one crewmember almost immediately. The rest of the crew bailed out with one drowning in a lake. McDermott landed in a town called Sassenheim. While landing he hit the ground so hard that he broke his back. He was brought to a doctor before being captured by the Germans. After he recovered in a hospital he was send to a POW camp and at the end of the war was forced on a death march.
The monument was unveiled by the grandchildren of some of the crewmembers and by the wife of the co-pilot, John P. Quillin. The Dutch Air Force performed a fly by and we had the American Ambassador present too. The whole group, 18 Americans including three WWII vets of the 457th bomb group, were brought to the church in WWII vehicles escorted by the Dutch police. More then 700 people visited the ceremony!
We know just a little bit about McDermott and in July 2012 I found his obituary. Unfortunately I was so busy with the unveiling of the monument that I didn’t have time enough to do a good search. I did contact the Port Washington newspaper because I had some leads that he might have been living there. In the obit it says that he lived in Flower Hill in Roslyn (see attachment). He is buried St. Mary’s R.C. Church, Manhasset. Maybe his daughter lived in the neighborhood too. She is married to William A. Kling. Alexander’s wife, Mary Ellen, was born in 1905 and she died in 1992 and is buried with her husband.
I know the chances of finding Joan Kling (nee McDermott) are small, she would be 83 years old now, but maybe she had children. It’s not that I want information, although that would be great, my main goal is to tell them about the monument and that we honored their grandfather with a monument and a book.
Please help me!
Obituary for Alexander P. McDermott in 1958:
McDermott-Alexander F. on July 18, 1958, of Flower Hill, Roslyn. L.I. beloved husband of Mary E. (nee McGloini devoted father of Mrs. William A. Kling dear son of the late Peter A. and Mable McDermott. Reposing at J.J. Gallagher Sons Funeral Home. 1350 Northern Boulevard. Manhasset. Solemn Requlem Mass Thursday, 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s R.C. Church. Manhasset, Interment St. John’s Cemetery.