Donohue, Thomas C.

Thomas C. Donahue U.S. Army WWII
Thomas C. Donahue U.S. Army WWII

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Date of Birth: 5/27/1921
Died On: 10/31/1963
Street Address: 37 Elm Street
Service Number: 32510326
Branch of Service: U.S. Army-WWII

Veteran Code: USARMY-170

Thomas C. Donahue Jr

Thomas C. Donahue Jr was born May 27th, 1921 to parents Thomas and Mary Donahue. Thomas lived with his parents and 10 siblings (Mary, Veronica, Margaret, Doris, Eleanor, Edward, Gloria, William, Vincetta and Daniel) on 37 Elm Street and were members of the Church of the Resurrection. His father owned this house valued at $10,000 ($1,599,125.75 in today’s money). Thomas’ father worked as a carpenter. Thomas attended Rye High School, class of 1939, and did a number of notable activities over the course of his education. He participated in the Drivers’ Club, he was a Junior Coach, he was a Co-Manager of the Football team, and he participated in the “Hitching Post.”

Thomas enlisted into the army on September 23rd, 1942 as a Private. He would serve the Army Battery D, 553rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Btry D- 553 AAA- AW- BN) during WWII. AAA AW mean "Anti-Aircraft Artillery, Automatic Weapons". All anti-aircraft units in the WWII US Army were "separate" battalions, or "independent" battalions. There were many different types of "independent" battalions, including several different types of anti-aircraft artillery.

They were "independent" because they were not an official part of any larger formation. (Sometimes they were called "bastard battalions" - no parent unit). US infantry regiments and divisions had no AAA in them. The AAA units were assigned to higher HQs, such as a corp or a field army, and so were also sometimes called "corps troops" or "army troops". The idea was that the higher HQ could move these "independent" battalions around as needed, to supplement the divisions. In practice these AAA units were usually "attached" to a division, sometimes more or less permanently.

The primary US anti-aircraft weapon was the 90mm cannon. It was for high-flying enemy aircraft. The AAA AW units were intended to guard against low flying air attacks.

Usually the AAA AW battalions had their weapons mounted on half-tracks. Some had quad-.50s. This was a four barreled weapon, four .50 caliber machine guns, on a hydraulic mount, with a Sperry Computing Gunsight (a WWII US secret weapon) to calculate the lead to give the target. Others had twin (two-barreled) 20MM automatic cannon, and others had single barrel 40mm automatic cannon. The .50 caliber were the same as the heavy machine guns of the infantry and the wing machine guns of US fighter aircraft, and also the many machine guns on US heavy bombers.

The US still uses the .50 caliber today, more than eighty years after its introduction. The 20 and 40MM were the same as those with which Navy ships were covered by the end of the war. If you ever go see a WWII museum ship many still have these mounted. The .50 caliber and 20MM were also effective against enemy foot troops and ground targets. They could really chew up trucks and thin-skinned vehicles. Using the 20MM against enemy infantry was a violation of the rules of war, but the Germans, who had the identical weapon (it was a Swiss design and the Swiss licensed it to both sides) used it against American infantry routinely, so nothing was ever said.

Thomas C. Donahue, 42, a former Rye resident, died October 31st, 1963 at his home in Waverly. Born in Rye and educated in the Rye school system, Mr. Donahue was the son of the late Thomas and Mary Donahue.

Surviving at the time of his death were his wife, the former Patricia Arnold, and four children, Thomas, Patricia Ann, Dawn Marie, and Stephen, all of Waverly; as well as three other children from a previous marriage, Mrs. Susan Hearondon of Vero Beach, Fla., Miss Tony Ann Donahue of Port Chester, and Miss Diane Donahue of Rye; six sisters, Miss Doris Donahue of Rye, Mrs. Allen Meigs of Tannersville, Mrs. James Tartarilla of Larchmont, Mrs. Paul Zeh of North White Plains, and Mrs. Whit Summers of Alexandria, Va.; and two brothers, William Donahue of Rye, and Edward Donahue of Huntington Station.

John Melfi
RHS 2021

Sources: Enlistment Records Obituary (Fulton) Rye High School Yearbook 1939 1930 Census
Links to this Veterans History

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Sibling correction February 12, 2023
Reviewer: Diane Donahue Greto from Diane.greto@ Gmail.com  
This is my Dad ….He lived at 37 Elm Place with 10 siblings,born to Thomas F and Mary Balls Donohue  not 9 as stated in second sentence…they had 11 children, 7 girls and 4 boys!! His youngest sibling Daniel Donahue was born in 1930 and was killed in an Air Force KC135 jet crash coming in for a landing at Westover Air Force Base In Massachusetts June 21, 1963. He was in the Air Force for 13 years. I sent a separate comment asking that info regarding my uncle Danny be added to your list of Rye vets …also plse correct the sibling info for my other Uncles William S Donahue and Edward F Donahue from 9 to 10 siblings along with my Dad’s, Thomas C Donahue. Thank you for all that you do in remembering our Vets.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Thomas C Donahue and William S Donahue May 14, 2021
Reviewer: Diane Donahue Greto from [email protected]  
Thank you for all you do!  Dads 100th birthday May 27 2021

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