Information sought on fallen Hartselle soldier
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A California man is searching for information on a fellow Merchant Marine and Hartselle native who died a hero in WWII.
James Hoffman of San Diego graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. in 1944. In 1989, one year after Congress awarded veteran status to Merchant Marines, Hoffman began volunteering his services to find the families of those Merchant Marines killed during wartime.
"It was a big job to tackle finding all these families and honor their loved ones' memories with authorized documents," Hoffman explained. "One of the families I found early on was that of U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Cadet George D. McCall of Hartselle who was killed in the sinking of the S.S. Robert Bacon on July 13, 1943."
According to information he collected during that first search, George D. McCall was born in Hartselle on March 13, 1922. He was the son of Nora A. McCall and the brother of Mary Frances McCall. He graduated high school in 1940.
In a second and more involved volunteer effort, Hoffman is helping compile a book to pay tribute to McCall and the other U.S. Merchant Marines who were killed at sea in WWII.
"We're going back to the families we found originally and trying to collect more biographical information," Hoffman explained. "My last contact with McCall's family was through his sister, (Mary) Frances McCall, who lived on Holloway Street in 1989. I sent a letter recently but it was returned."
Mary Frances McCall has moved since Hoffman first contacted her in 1989, but she is still a resident of Hartselle.
Hoffman's contact information was shared with her recently by the Hartselle Enquirer.
"It's nice that they would make a book like that," McCall said. "I still get something from the Merchant Marines each year because of George's service."
Hoffman is asking classmates, friends, and others who may remember George D. McCall to share their memories so the heroic cadet can be properly honored in the book.
"My hope is that people in the community who remember him would respond and say, 'I knew him and this is what he was like,'" Hoffman said. "I would also welcome pictures of McCall if anyone has any to share."
To contact Hoffman, write to: James Hoffman, Field Admissions Rep., P.O. Box 27165, San Diego, CA 92198, or call or fax 858-592-9619.