Do you know the Thellman family of West Mayfield, Beaver County?
Earlier this year archaeologist and military photo historian Brennan Gauthier purchased a collection of WW II photos on eBay. The collection turned out to be from an obscure Marine Nightfighter aircraft unit stationed in the Pacific during the end of WWII. The album held many of the typical photos of the war: military planes, tropical scenes, buildings, vehicles, and several photos of GIs.
In a recent blog post Mr. Gauthier says, “I always try to do research on names in the hopes of tracking down a living veteran. I’ve succeeded on a number of occasions, but the search usually ends unfulfilled. In this case, I was able to successfully track down the veteran. Sadly, he passed way a few months back, but I’m hoping to contact one of the living relatives.”
Mr. Gauthier refers to a Beaver County Times obituary for Henry H. ‘Heinie’ Thellman, who died on January 26, 2012 in Tampa, Florida at the age of 85. Mr. Thellman lived in West Mayfield during the war years. In fact, the Thellman family are long-time residents of the Borough. Daniel Thellman Sr., Henry’s father, was once mayor.
Mr. Gauthier’s search to find the Thellman family uncovered a bit of local WW II history that many would find remarkable. Like so many other families during the war, the Thellman’s answered the call of their nation. However, far fewer families contributed as much as the Thellman’s; four brothers–Dan Jr., Mike, Steve, and Henry–not only enlisted, but they all joined the US Marines and fought in the Pacific.
Unfortunately, Corporal Steve Thellman was killed in action March 25, 1945, just three days before his 25th birthday. The loss was devastating to the close-knit family. In fact, for a long time a distraught Mrs. Thellman refused to cash her son’s government insurance check.
At the end of war, the remaining Thellman brothers all safely returned home. Mike Thellman (4th Ave.) still lives in the Borough. Passersby can see the USMC banner hoisted on his American flag pole, a bit tattered but proudly flying.
Mr. Gauthier wants to connect with the Thellman family so that he can share Henry’s photos with them. After all these years the family might want to see them, he imagines.
If you can help us reconnect the Thellman family with these long lost photos, please contact Kevin Farkas at email@example.com or call 412-423-8034.
Brennan Gautier’s blog, Portraits of War, is dedicated to discussing the various aspects of interpreting military photography from the first half of the 20th century. It is mainly comprised of WWI and WWII photographs with a broad range of photographic formats ranging from early glass plate negatives to photographic prints, color slide, and B/W nitrate negatives.