Staff Sgt. Patrick Naugle
5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE — Anyone who has ever served in the military, no matter the branch, understands the bond that is shared by serving your country.
Staff Sgt. Eric Pettengill , 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD), ground liaison officer, and native of Massachusetts, understands this well, and he went beyond great measures this past winter in order to reunite two families so that they could experience the bond they once shared.
“With a little bit of luck and some ingenuity, I was able to reunite the family of World War II veterans Irving Shanley and Zane Schlemmer,” said Pettengill.
Shanley and Schlemmer served together in World War II, in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne. They took part in D-Day operations and jumped into Normandy.
During the past few years, the two men had lost contact with each other.
During a job interview, over the phone from Hawaii to Massachusetts, Pettengill’s wife talked with Joan Shanley. Ms. Shanley is the daughter of Irving Shanley, who had recently passed away in December 2012. Ms.
Shanley was trying to locate a good friend of her father’s, Zane Schlemmer, to inform him of her father’s passing.
Ms. Shanley had little information about her father’s friend, but knew that he lived in Hawaii at one time, so she took a chance.
“Ms. Shanley asked my wife if she could use some of her Army contacts to see if she could track him down, so my wife asked me to see what I could do, so I used our good friend Google,” Pentengill said. “I felt compelled to do this, because, for one, I felt that it was the right thing to do. We are Soldiers/brothers, no matter what, when or where we served. Things like this are what we do for each other.”
Using Google, Pettingill discovered that Schlemmer volunteered at the Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe. Contacting the cemetery, he further learned that Schlemmer no longer worked there, but was able to get a contact phone number for his home in Florida.
Pettengill called Schlemmer to offer the contact information.
Penttengill said, “Mr. Schlemmer knew exactly who I was talking about and gave me permission to give his phone number to Ms. Shanley.”
Pettengill decided to do some research on Schlemmer.
He said, “I became curious about Mr. Schlemmer’s Army days from our phone conversation, so I did further research on him and found out he has an impressive record and is a bit of a celebrity. Among the most interesting things I found was that Mr. Schlemmer had a road named after him over in France.”
In 1977, the French people of Picauvi1le, Normandy, France, created a permanent bronze plaque at the field in which Schlemmer landed on June 6, 1944, and named the adjoining road “Rue Zane Schlemmer” in his honor.
During this career, Schlemmer was awarded the following awards for his service:
Bronze star medal, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, Parachute wings with two bronze stars, Combat Infantry Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, World War II Occupation Medal, Europe-Africa Campaign Medal with arrowhead and four bronze battle stars, World War II Victory Medal, World War II Occupation Medal, French Fourragere, Belgian Fourragere, and the Militaire Willems Order Degree of Knight in Holland.
Schlemmer participated in the D-Day invasion, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Furthermore, Schlemmer was recalled for the Korean Conflict, and later held the position of sergeant major of the Ordnance Corps Research and Development Division, Guided Missile School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.
Pettengill said, “I felt pretty good being able to help the family of a fellow Soldier; it always feels good when you do the right thing and when you are able to give a helping hand to others.”
To see additional pictures of Schlemmer visiting the road that bears his name and other photos, please visit the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment webpage, 508th Honored by Citizens of Normandy, at
(Editor’s note: Naugle is the 5th BCD’s unit public affairs representative.)