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Hello! Came across this wonderful site when I googled what little info I have about my Daddy's time in the Army.

His name was (PFC) Chester E. Knox - and he served in the 5th US Army -39th Combat Engineer Regiment. I'm looking for anyone who is willing to share ANY info about this regiment, or may have any knowledge about his service.

Thank you!

Hi Debby. So glad you found our site and our forum. A big welcome from all of us at VI Corps.


I have just the people to put you in contact with. They will be delighted to hear from you and can put you in contact with many others too. Their names are David Wagner and Paul Knudsen. David has an email address, so you can contact him immediately.


The 39th are having a reunion soon and who knows, maybe you can attend. They are a great bunch of folks.


I will send you a private email later today and will supply the information for you. Promise us that you will keep in touch and let us know what transpires. We always love to hear good news.


As with the others vets and their families that I meet, I also offer to create a Memories Page on our site. If you are interested in doing so for your dad, let me know and I will be happy to comply. B)

Hey Debby,

My name is Luis Barrera, JR. A few years ago, I discovered my grandfather's 2 diaries from WWII. Florentino B. Pena was in the 39th Combat Engineers like your father. I’ve started converting his long day by day account of the war into a large PDF book. I travel a lot with my current job, so I need hundreds of more pages to scan. However, I have managed to scan a few of the pages that mention names of the brave men that served along side him. Please get me into contact of any of the men’s families below if you have their information. I will continue to post more information as I come upon vacation during Thanksgiving and Christmas, while I work on scanning the whole dairy.


Here are the names as signed in my grandfather’s diary:

William W. Brown - McHenry

Lyle L. Upright - Lake Ariel, PA

Melvin Beckman - 420 East State, St. O'Fallon, Illnois

Crucy C. Nolen - Rt. 5, Box 293 Ada, OK

Donald F. Kinly - Iowa

Girard Girandir - 22 Vine Street Livermore Falls, Maine

Clifford Leslie Adams - 2145 Baily St. Dearborn, MI

Elizardo Vigil - N. Mexico

Alfred M. Stasinski - 87 Halstead Ave. Buffalo, NY

Joe Evans - Hamilton, MO

Jacob Poppaport - 340 Powell St. Brookly NY

Antonio D. Ruiz - 4118 San Fernando street San Antonio,TX

Inez Garza -

Henry A. Martinez - San Francisco, CA

Edwardo Soliz - New York, NY

Jose T. Gomez (88th Sig. Br SP) San Francisco


If any one that reads this post of the men mentioned above, please email me at:



Luis Barrera, Jr.


Scan in Jpeg form


Dairy Cover


This is the lst page of the 2nd Dairy. It starts in 1944.


We 1st Sqd was carrying some lumber and had to carry about a mile but Diego gave us a lift.


:D Ha!


Diego -- slang for an 'Italian'.



Delighted to make your acquaintance. If you've read through any of the stories regarding the 36th, 39th or 540th Combat Engineers on this site so far, then you must realize how exciting it is for me to find that you have a diary from the war.


If you didn't realize it yet, I am writing a comprehensive history of the VI Corps engineers, and knowing that there is a diary out there has me drooling. :lol: Need I say more? :D


The remaining 39th CE's will be thrilled to hear about you and your grandfather. I shall send an email off this morning. I'm sure they will want to contact you as soon as possible. :pdt34:

My grandfather’s dairy starts from when he was inducted into the army in March 25, 1943 and ends in a 2nd diary at war’s end in 1945. Florentino Pena was born a third generation American on the family ranch just outside the city of Alice, TX. He was a farmer and rancher before he was inducted into the Army. My grandfather’s best friends were WWII vets as well. They were my paternal grandfather, Anastacio Barrera (Artillery) and his best friend Alberto C. Nava (INFANTRY 1943-1946.). Growing up I heard a lot of amazing stories from these 3 men. Using the format from the University of Texas WWII Latino memorial, I’ve been trying to interview Mr. Nava for over a year now, but work has keep me visiting him in Alice. (


Some other notes from Florentino’s diary:

Word Meanings in Northern Africa:

Allied – go away

Massa masel – pretty girl

Cinema – show

Jig jig


No compri – don’t understand

Manager – good day

Alli – come here

Karmel – candy

Diego – Italian


Army slang –

Dearest one – U.S.A.

My Dearest one – I am across

Sweet one – In action

Hello Darling – Going to be transferred or was

I’m getting Dark – In northern Africa

Spaghetti – Some where in Italy

English – England or Brits

Sugar – Australian

Cold – Alaskan


My grandfather and the 39th left Fort Leonard Wood on Friday Aug. 25, 1943 and by Wed. Sept. 22, my grandfather writes that he passed the coast of Spain and landed in Algiers the morning of Sat. Sept. 25, 1943.


Right now I’m on a project for my company in Oklahoma. When more time is available I will continue sharing more stories and finish scanning the diary. My grandfather also has pictures that he took while he was there of fellow soldiers, towns and bridges they built. I will scan and copy those as well. If anyone has any advise for interviewing Mr. Nava, please let me know.



Luis Barrera

GE Energy

Installation & Field Services

Field Engineer/Mechanical TA


T 512 699 9646



2025 W. Beltline Road Suite 100

Carrollton, TX 75006

General Electric International, Inc.

I had some time today to type up some of the pages. The following excerpts are from the first couple of pages of the 2nd diary. I'm not sure if the first diary explains what a "Cracker" is, but if anyone knows, please let me know. Apparently, a cracker is something they used to secure a bridge or road, but I don't know for sure. I skipped a couple of pages, but it mentions his friend Clifford Leslie Adams taking shrapnel to the leg.


Log: Florentino Pena

Saturday, March 11, 1944

Went to fill "crackers" and as soon as they

(Germans) saw us working by cutting

the trees to fill the holes, they started

shelling us; but we had to keep working by order

of Lt. Col. Dieblen.


Sunday, March 12, 1944

Went to lay wire entanglement on the front line

with 600 yards of wire, after we got working

it started raining really hard. We came in early

because we were all wet and had to walk to miles

back to the truck.


Monday, March 13, 1944

Went to put a little more dirt on top of matting

that we had laid on top of the crackers. We were

shelled again and Clifford Adams got hit by a piece

of was not bad.




Thursday March 16, 1944

Went to finish bridge and 2 squads of third platoon worked close to us fixing drive way to bridge. The other squad was finishing putting wire where we had left that got ruined by Jerrys (Slang for Germans) small arm fire. East Co. got seven

men wounded and one killed fixing the crackers at night. I was on guard from 10pm to 2am

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