The Ancestry.com web site has added new WWII military records from the New Mexico State Archives. I was disappointed that I didn’t find anything new for my Grandpa Carlos; but I did come across an interesting record related to my Great-Uncle Eloy Gallegos, who died in Italy in the early days of the war.
I discovered the application for Uncle Eloy’s headstone. He was killed in action as the 120th Engineering Company invaded Sicily in 1943 to take on German troops. I’ve never been quite clear about when exactly he died, where and how. A Gallegos cousin – the daughter of another Great-Uncle, Clemente Gallegos, told me her Dad was with Eloy when he was shot in an olive field in Sicily. But I haven’t come across any records that provide details.
Based on newspaper articles in the Las Vegas Optic, my Great-Grandparents, Luis and Victoria Gallegos, were notified Sept. 10, that their son, Eloy Gallegos, was missing in action. He was previously reported as missing in action, according to the newspaper article.
I assumed Eloy must have been killed in August. But I now have two military records that list July 10, 1943 as his date of death. The “Final statement” of his military record that summarized how much money was owed to him. That record stated he was killed in action on July 10, 1943, although the record was stamped August 1943.
Now, I have the application for his military headstone, which also cites July 10, 1943, as his date of death. His father, Luis, signed the application on Aug. 11, 1948, which requested that the headstone be shipped to St. Anthony Cemetery in Las Vegas.
Why does the date matter? If he died on July 10, that means he perished only a few days after the allied invasion of Sicily. Eloy and his brother, Clemente, had fought in North Africa, and they were part of the invasion into Siciliy – a year before the D-Day invasion at Normandy. As members of an engineering company, the 120th were on the front lines rebuilding bridges that were destroying by fleeing German and Italian troops.
When I found the application for his headstone, it reminded me that I had not been able to find the actual headstone during two previous trips to St. Anthony’s Cemetery. I went back today, during a trip with my family to Las Vegas and El Porvenir, and I finally found Uncle Eloy’s headstone. It wasn’t quite as near his parent’s burial plot, which is what I was told by another relative. But I found it. I was relieved to finally find it. My middle name, Eloy, comes from Uncle Eloy, which makes me proud.