Pinder, John, born 06-06-1912 in McKees, Pennsylvania, the son of John Joseph Pinder Sr. (1880-1962). His mother was Laura B. Pinder (1889-1942). The oldest of three, his siblings were a sister, Martha Pinder (1915-1996), and brother, Harold H. Pinder Sr. (1922-2008). Pinder’s father worked in Pennsylvania steel mills. The family moved following his work, living in McKees Rocks through the mid 1920’s. They lived in Butler for a time (Joe and Martha graduated from Butler High School) before moving to Burgettstown. Harold graduated from Burgettstown High School. Mr. Pinder and his wife bought a home in McCandless, raised four children and were actively involved in their lives. He was the leader of Scout Troop 298. His wife was a Girl Scout leader. They watched their son accomplish all the steps necessary to become an Eagle Scout, the highest ranking in the Boy Scouts of America. Their three daughters were Girl Scouts. Joe Pinder dreamed of pitching for a major league baseball team but never made it out of the minors.
Then John “Joe” joined the Army from Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, and by June 6, 1944 was serving as a technical fifth grade in the 16th Infantry Regiment, nickname “New York’s Own” , 1st Infantry Division , nicknamed “The Big Red One” under Major General Terry de la Messa Allen “Terrible Terry”.
Joe Pinder (right) with his brother, Harold “Hal”, a first lieutenant and bomber pilot, at an airfield in England in 1943. In the fall of 1943, Pinder was sent to England, where preparations were underway for the Allied invasion of France. There he was able, for the first time in two years, to reunite with Harold, a first lieutenant in the 6th Squadron, 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy), at Shipdham. It would be their last meeting. A few months later, Harold Pinder, in his 10th bombing mission, flew the B-24H Sky Queen over Frankfurt, Germany. In the skies above Belgium, a German Focke-Wulf 190 shot him down. Hal Pinder survived the crash, managed to hook up with Belgian resistance fighters, and evaded capture for more than two months. But that April, two months before the D-Day invasion, Harold was holed up in the cellar of a Belgian farmhouse when he heard the thud of a German grenade hit the floor, followed by a second one. Fortunately, neither went off. But Harold knew that his luck had run out, and German soldiers soon found him. He was sent to a prisoner of war camp. Harold Pinder, who on his liberation in 1945 was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Bronze Star, returned to the Pittsburgh area. He married and then briefly moved to Florida to work as a cargo pilot before he went back to Pennsylvania and embarked on a long career as a draftsman. He died at age 86 in 2008.
The division lost 3.616 killed in action, 15.208 wounded in action, and 664 died of wounds. On that day, he participated in the Allied landings near Colleville sur Mere, Omaha Beach, Normandy. Despite being twice wounded, Pinder refused medical attention and continued to gather communications equipment in order to establish a radio link on the beach before receiving a third and fatal wound. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor seven months later, on 04-01-1945 and his father received the Medal of Honor .
Death and burial ground of Pinder, John Joseph “Joe”
Pinder, killed on his 32nd birthday, age 31, was buried in Grandview Cemetery, Florence, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Army barracks in Zirndorf, Germany, were named Pinder Barracks in his honor. Although these barracks were abandoned in the years after 1999, the name Pinder remained by decision of the city administration as the newly formed city district “Pinder Park”
Technician Pinder’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. On D-Day, Technician 5th Grade Pinder landed on the coast 100 yards off shore under devastating enemy machinegun and artillery fire which caused severe casualties among the boatload. Carrying a vitally important radio, he struggled towards shore in waist-deep water. Only a few yards from his craft he was hit by enemy fire and was gravely wounded. Technician 5th Grade Pinder never stopped. He made shore and delivered the radio. Refusing to take cover afforded, or to accept medical attention for his wounds, Technician 5th Grade Pinder, though terribly weakened by loss of blood and in fierce pain, on 3 occasions went into the fire-swept surf to salvage communication equipment. He recovered many vital parts and equipment, including another workable radio. On the 3rd trip he was again hit, suffering machinegun bullet wounds in the legs. Still this valiant soldier would not stop for rest or medical attention. Remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire, growing steadily weaker, he aided in establishing the vital radio communication on the beach. While so engaged this dauntless soldier was hit for the third time and killed. The indomitable courage and personal bravery of Technician 5th Grade Pinder was a magnificent inspiration to the men with whom he served.