William Schlosser passed away earlier this week at 97. The East Patchogue resident and member of American Legion Post 269 served the country during World War II and recently served as the oldest veteran in the Post.
The American Legion service was held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at Robertaccio Funeral Home.
At the age of 18, Schlosser was drafted to the United States Army on March 23, 1943. He grew up in Manhattan with his mother and father and younger sister (his brother was born while he was at war).
Immediately, he went to Fort Dix, N.J., for training and served as a private, then private first class in the 116th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion with 90-millimeter guns. Just before his 19th birthday, he was sent overseas to Ireland aboard the Queen Elizabeth.
When he first got to Ireland, his outfit (battalion) took position guarding the boats near Belfast. From there, his team of about 16 men went to Wales to test their weapons and then moved on to Scotland and England. They were then transported to Normandy, where combat began (D-Day).
Two men from his crew were killed and four were wounded. Schlosser recalled filling sandbags with his two buddies and then being told to go on guard duty. He went up 100 yards and about five minutes later, they were killed.
“The Good Lord spared me,” he said in a 2016 interview, remembering his wartime friends and iterating how everything happens for a reason.
The next stop was Paris, France, then Belgium, Holland and Germany. One of the scariest things he remembers of his time in war were the “German buzz bombs.”
His outfit knocked out 93 and 1/2 German planes and 54 Tiger tanks, he said with pride. He also remembered complaining about being wet from the rain and not having a hot meal in days to a man he thought was a fellow soldier, but ended up being then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. The very next day, his battalion was given dry clothes, boots, a hot meal and a movie.
In September 1945, the war finally ended. Schlosser and his crew were transferred to a small town in Germany to occupy until the Russians took over, then were ordered to guard a German prison until deactivated.
Soon, the men were sent on boxcars and brought home aboard the S.S. William and Mary Victory ship in 1946. He recalled being served Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of a hurricane on the Mediterranean Sea.
The men were then sent to Fort Dix for steak dinner and eight days later discharged and sent home, on Dec. 8, 1946. Schlosser was 21 years old and hadn’t seen his family for 33 months.
After his time in the service, he bought his family a home, moved to Bayport and went to work with his father, Charles Schlosser, at American Bronze in Astoria, Queens, as an apprentice for $42 a week. His father was a mechanist and his mother, Anna Schlosser, was a housewife. At that time, he also served in the National Guard as a corporal for a short period of time in the 1950s, which was stationed in Patchogue.
For fun, he played baseball, enjoyed fishing and hung out with friends. One day, he said, he went to a friend’s house in Patchogue and met a neighbor, Amy, who would soon become his wife.
Then, in 1958, he married Amy at Our Lady of the Snow R.C. Church in Blue Point and they held their reception at the Pine Grove Inn. The young couple lived in Bayport for some time, had a family in 1959 starting with his daughter, and then moved to California for a job at Aerospace & Defense (Lockheed Martin) and had a son. In 1990, the Schlossers moved to East Patchogue for retirement. She has also since passed.
In his later years, despite a few health issues that come with age including heart surgery and prostate cancer, Schlosser was an active older man with a great sense of humor and positive personality.
Schlosser was graced with two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His daughter helped take care of the aging couple.
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