Eric D. Schabell: PFC Henry L. Hooper

PFC Henry L. Hooper

Henry Leo Hooper in 8th grade
class photo at
Frank Wagner Jr. High
(eventually HS class of 1945)
I have always been in awe of the various memorial sites around Europe from WWII.

I am a veteran and have spent some time in dangerous places, but I find it very hard to imagine the world as it must have been for these men that made the ultimate sacrifice.

I have lived longer in the Netherlands than I've lived in the US and have often visited the American Memorial Cemetery Margraten. I can not even begin to describe to you the feeling you get when you approach such a field of crosses, more than 8000 of them…

Around 2005 I became aware of the possibility of adopting one of the graves. Many local families have adopted a grave and been taking care of them since they were first laid to rest, grateful for the sacrifices they had made. I was just not aware that a non Dutch citizen could also adopt. I received immediate response to my inquiries and was sent an adoption certificate that states only the basic information regarding the person I had been given:

Name: Hooper, Henry L.
Rank: Private First Class (PFC)
Date of Death: 17 APR 1945
(Plot B, row 10, grave 18)

I visited the grave and made sure he was remembered even though I was missing any details such as: what he looked like? where he grew up in Washington? does his family know where he lays? how he died? where he died? etc?

I decided to start a search for the background and history behind PFC Henry L. Hooper to answer these questions.

(Updated 01 April 2006)

Today I received a copy of PFC Henry L. Hoopers World War II Army Enlistment record from a family friend that has genealogy as a hobby. It contains the following data:
Name:Henry L. Hooper
Birth Year:1924
Race:White, citizen
Nativity State or Country:Washington
County or City:Snohomish

Enlistment Date:9 Apr 1943
Enlistment State:Washington
Enlistment City:Seattle
Branch:No branch assignment
Branch Code:No branch assignment
Grade Code:Private
Term of Enlistment:Enlistment for the duration of the War or other
emergency, plus six months, subject to the
discretion of the President or otherwise according
to law
Component:Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source:Civil Life

Education:Grammar school
Civil Occupation:Gas And Oil Man
Marital Status:Single, without dependents
Height:63 inches

(Updated 20 September 2006)
Today I received some new information from my contact in the United States (Imogene, many thanks for your work in digging this all up!):

Service Number - 39206277

Awards won:

  • Bronze star
  • Purple Heart
  • European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • World War II Service Lapel Button
I also found this site Bridge to the Past with a bit of history on the Engineers in WWII, from 1944 I found references to the same unit that PFC Henry L. Hooper was in:

December 16th, 1944 - When Germany launched its offensive from the Eifel region against the First United States Army lines in the Ardennes section of Belgium and Luxembourg, it marked the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. It also set the stage for the development of the largest continuous minefield ever laid on any American division front. The 1st Engineer Combat Battalion planned and installed this extensive 12-mile minefield of 31,480 anti tank mines, 127 anti-personnel mines, and 38 trip flares in 2 weeks beginning on 20 December. The minefield aided the 1st Infantry Division in firmly repelling three of Von Rundstedt’s best divisions, thereby preventing a successful breakthrough in the Monschau shoulder.”

The site Veterans of the First Engineer Combat Battalion’s holds some history from WWII:

” Prior to the start of World War II, the 1st Engineer Regiment was reorganized as the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion and again assigned to fight as part of the 1st Infantry Division. In 1942, the battalion landed with the initial forces spear-heading the North Africa invasion. In 1943, the battalion cleared underwater obstacles and destroyed enemy pillboxes during the landings on Sicily. During the Normandy landings at Omaha Beach in 1944, the battalion led the assault forces, breaching gaps in the extensive enemy mine and wire obstacles and clearing the combat trails leading off the beaches. The battalion received its third Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Omaha Beach and received the Distinguished Unit Citation for combat action at Gafsa, Tunisia, and Normandy. The battalion fought as part of the 1st Infantry Division during the remainder of the war in the European Theater and after 10 years of occupation duty moved to Fort Riley, Kansas.”

I will continue to dig, trying to find out more about his time between enlistment and up to his passing. If you have any information, please feel free to contact me through this site.

(Updated November 15th, 2013)
Discovered a form to request the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) of a fallen soldier based on the freedom of information act, so contacted US Army Human Resources Command and got the following response, so now it is wait and see:
Request for IDPF PFC Henry L. Hooper

(Updated July, 15th 2014)
Received an envelope postmarked July 11th, 2014 from the Department of the Army Human Resource Command in Fort Knox, Ky with two files (scanned images) of the IDPF for PFC Henry L. Hooper.

There are two files on the CD, the first is ~32MB and contains 54 scanned pages. Below are the documents outlined as they appear in the file, with the most recent activity first:

  1. A Disinterment Directive dated 27 August 1948, most likely he was moved to the final plot location where he is now located. 
  2. A Request for Disposition of Remains, where the next of kin signed to have the remains interred at Margraten and is signed by Albert Henry Hooper (385 47 00, ACRM USNavy, VR-5 NATS NAS Seattle, WA), father and dated 19 January 1948. He added the comments,
    • "It was my son's expressed desire to be buried where he fell, so please leave him where he is if possible."
  3. The letter sent to Mr. Albert H. Hooper (father) notifying that his son was permanently interred at Margraten, dated 25 February 1949.
  4. The letter dated 4 December 1947 that was sent to Mr. Albert H. Hooper (father) notifying that his son was to be disinterred from Margraten plot NN, row 3, grave 53 and moved to his final resting place. Mr. Albert H. Hooper is asked to reply with his wishes for the disposition of the remains. 
  5. A letter dated 15 November 1946 that was sent to Mr. Albert H. Hooper (father) to notify him of the exact location of his son in Margraten, plot NN, row 3, grave 53.
  6. Report of Burial dated 21 July 1945 listing time, place and cause of death when moved to Margraten initially:
  7. Burial report PFC Henry L. Hooper
    in Margraten, Holland.
    • unit: 1st Engineer Company, 26th Infantry
    • organization: 1st Division
    • place of death: Bannlage, Germany
    • date of death: 17 April 1945 (estimated)
    • cause of death: SFW right buttocks   (Shell Fragment Wounds)
    • time and date of burial: 09:30 hrs, 21 July 1945
    • grave: 53
    • row: 3
    • plot: NN
    • type of marker: Wooden Cross
    • reburial, previously buried at cemetery: Breuna #1, plot D, row 3, grave 58
  8. Report of Burial dated 21 April 1945 listing time, place and cause of death when buried in Breuna #1 in Germany:
    • unit: 1st Engineer Company, 26th Infantry
    • organization: 1st Division
    • place of death: Bannlage, Germany
    • date of death: 17 April 1945 (estimated)
    • cause of death: SFW right buttocks   (Shell Fragment Wounds)
    • time and date of burial: 10:00 hrs, 21 April 1945
    • grave: 58
    • row: 3
    • plot: D
    • type of marker: Perm.
  9. Report of Death dated 10 May 1945, listing PFC Henry L. Hooper's death in European Area and caused by 'Wounds rec'd in action' on 17 April 1945. He entered active service on 3 April 1943. Emergency contact was listed as:
  10. Burial report PFC Henry L. Hooper in Germany.
    • Mr. Andrew B. Hooper (grandfather), 131 Blakely St., Monroe, WA.
    • Mr. Albert H. Hooper (father), 131 Blakely St., Monroe, WA.
  11. Summary Court-Martial dated 25 August 1945 in which PFC Henry L. Hoopers personal effects where decided as passing to next of kin (father).
  12. Letter dated 11 October 1945 to Mr. Albert H. Hooper (father) that personal effects of his son were sent on 30 August 1945 but were returned in the post because of illegible address. The Army re-forwarded them again.
  13. Order for Shipment of effects for PFC Henry L. Hooper to his father, listing the following items:
    • 1 wrist watch
  14. Letter dated 25 August 1945 to Albert H. Hooper (father) stating that his sons wrist watch was being sent to him at 131 Blakely St., Monroe, WA.
The second file on the CD was a letter from the Department of the Army stating that this was all the information they possessed.

(Updated March 14th, 2015)
Contacted by a Mrs. McCarthy and her son who live in Monroe, WA. and are working on a school project to research and honor their towns WWII fallen. They have found the following article in the local Monroe Monitor newspaper archives from 18 May 1945 listing the death of PFC Henry L. Hooper.

Through this she put me in contact with a son of one of Henry L. Hoopers cousins, who provided this family photo from 1927 shot in or around 1927 with Henry L. Hooper sitting on the stairs as a boy.

Henry L. Hooper bottom left on stairs as a boy with is father
Albert H. Hooper top left (taken in or around 1927).
The final report is here for your enjoyment:

By Alex McCatney                                 Private First Class

                                                               Henry Leo Hooper

Henry Leo Hooper was one of the 18 casualties of World War II from Monroe. 

He was born on September, 9th 1924.  Shortly after he was born, his mother left him in the care of his father Albert Henry Hooper. His dad served in the Navy for 30 plus years so growing up Henry had to live with his grandparents Andrew Bowman Hooper and Alice Tippet Hooper. 

He completed grammar school which is typically 8th grade and was part of the relay track team. After he completed school, he was trained to be a mechanic. 

Henry was a short man at 5 foot 3 inches tall and weighed about 150 lbs. He was drafted and enlisted on April, 9th 1943 at the age of 18 into the Army. His enrollment was for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law. 

He was a Private First Class and served in the First Engineer Company 26th Infantry 1st Division. He served with the combat engineers in France, Belgium, and Germany. On April 17th 1945, with only two years of service under his belt, he died of shell fragment wounds to the right buttocks during a battle in the vicinity of Schierke-Braunlage, Harz Mountains, Germany.  The only personal effects returned to his family was one wrist watch. Awards received by Henry included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and World War II Service Lapel Button.  

He is buried in the American War Cemetery Margraten in the Netherlands.  Henry’s father stated, “It was my son’s expressed desire to be buried where he fell.”

As a result of my search for more information on Henry, I found that his grave had been adopted by Eric D. Schabell a former United States Marine who lives in the Netherlands.  I was able to contact Eric and provide more personal information about Henry’s life prior to his military career.  Eric visits Henry’s grave at least once a year.
There was a local Monroe Monitor article on the presentation and research done by the local kids, but this is no longer listed online at their website. I'm sure if you asked for this article from their site, they would provide a digital copy. (Original article was posted on 18 May 2015:

(Updated June 5th, 2015)
A photo from Henry L. Hooper's 8th grade class was obtained by Charla McCartney, verified by his cousin Ray Sjblom during her research and forwarded to me. Photo added to top of this page.

(Updated June 9th, 2016)
There was a groundbreaking ceremony in Monroe, WA for a monument to veterans which is to include Henry L. Hooper, article in local Monroe Monitor, again link has moved (Original article was posted on 06 June 2016: