Medina family receives overdue medals for World War II soldier missing in action since 1945

Photos by Tom Rivers: Catherine “Connie” Caldwell accepts a Purple Heart earned by her brother, Baptist John “Buddy” Massar. Curtis Schultz, a chief warrant officer based at Fort Drum, presented the medal today at the VFW in Medina. Several veterans attended the presentation.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 June 2017 at 10:37 pm

Baptist John “Buddy” Massar is pictured in his military uniform. His name is inscribed in the Wall of the Missing  in the American Cemetery in the Netherlands.

MEDINA – For the past several years, Catherine “Connie” Caldwell wrote letters to Congressmen and Veterans officials, seeking her brother’s medals from when he served in World War II.

She never got a response until recently.

Caldwell’s brother, Baptist John “Buddy” Massar, went missing in Germany on April 7, 1945. He is believed to have been killed in action. His remains have never been recovered.

Caldwell, 90, said her parents spent many years after the war, hopeful her brother would return.

“My parents always thought that the knock at the door would be Buddy and he’d be home,” Caldwell said.

The family accepted his loss. But Caldwell wanted his medals.

Today she received her brother’s Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals. They were presented to Caldwell by Curtis Schultz, a chief warrant officer based at Fort Drum in Watertown.

“I’ve tried and tried every year,” she said.

Catherine “Connie” Caldwell thanked local veterans for attending a presentation today at the VFW in Medina, when she received her brother’s long overdue medals.

Caldwell reached out to Fort Drum earlier this year, and the base secured Massar’s medals. Besides the two prestigious awards today, the family last week’s received these medals for Massar: Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation & Oak Leak Cluster (large), American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Silver Star attachment (single) & Arrowhead, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award, Belgian Fourragere, Netherlands Orange Lanyard.

Massar would be 97 if he were alive today. He was born Nov. 29, 1919. Thanksgiving was difficult for the family for many years after Massar’s went missing, Caldwell said.

She said her brother was quiet – “He was such a nice guy.” Buddy’s laid-back manner was a contrast to another brother, the boisterous Joe. Massar also had three sisters, Isabelle, Mary and Connie. (Connie is the lone surviving sibling.)

Buddy graduated from Medina High School in 1937, and attended Bryant and Stratton for two years, learning accounting. He enlisted in the Army on Feb. 6, 1941 and was deployed overseas in December 1942.

LuAnn Howe, right, is Buddy Massar’s niece. She shared his background and service history during today’s presentation at the VFW in Medina.

In September 1944 he was transferred to the A Company 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Buddy Massar crossed the Rhine River in an attack at Holdorf, Germany, his niece LuAnn Howe shared today.

The company withdrew to the other side of the river, but Massar was missing. The squad leader searched for Massar but had to leave due to enemy fire. A more thorough search was conducted but Massar wasn’t found. He was declared missing in action on April 8, 1946.

Caldwell, Howe and Massar’s nephew Jack Massar all submitted DNA samples earlier this year to Army Mortuary Affairs in the hopes there would be a match with Massar’s remains. That hasn’t happened yet.

Caldwell said she was grateful to have her brother’s medals.

Howe said the medals give the family some closure.

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