William John “Bill” Jucksch

by | Dec 18, 2017 | Obituaries

A serendipitous meeting in 2011 spurred a meaningful relationship between the Holocaust Commission and Bill Jucksch. We are so grateful that he allowed us to capture his story of liberating Gunskirchen Lager as World War II came to a close. The hour that he, as an impressionable 19 year old, spent in that pit of Hell, affected him for the rest of his life. He unselfishly opened up and enabled us to continue to share his experience, in his own voice, after he was gone. The world has lost a soft-spoken man of integrity, and the Commission has lost a good friend. May his memory be a blessing.
—Elena Baum, UJFT Holocaust Commission

Virginia Beach —William John “Bill” Jucksch, of Virginia Beach, passed peacefully into eternal rest at his residence Tuesday, November 28, 2017.

Bill loved life and lived it to the fullest and loved spending time with his family. Son of Edward and Frances Marie (Beavers) Jucksch, Bill was born in McAllen, Texas on October 29, 1925.

After spending his early years in urban centers of Chicago, Cleveland, Manhattan, and Jackson Heights, he returned to his maternal family’s rural roots in Neosho, Missouri. While living with his grandparents, John Bransford and Amanda Jane Beavers, he attended Neosho High School where he lettered in football and track.

During his senior year, Bill answered a call to serve his country during World War II . He did so honorably in the United States Army as an Observer/Infantry Liaison Radio Operator assigned to the Headquarters Battery, 607th Field Artillery Battalion, 71st Infantry Division of General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army. The 71st surged through France, Germany and Austria, breached the Ziegfried Line, assaulted rivers including the Rhine and Danube, and annihilated the German 10th SS Mountain Nord Division while capturing many cities, towns, and nearly 80,000 enemy troops.

In April 1945, Bill and the other members of the four man forward liaison element of the 5th Infantry Regiment discovered and liberated an estimated 10,000 near-death Jews from the death camp Gunskirchen Lager, poignantly documented in a powerful film made for the What We Carry project sponsored by the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

During occupation in Germany, Bill was instrumental in wiring the Nuremberg court, site of the war trials, with audio devices for translation purposes. He separated from service with the rank of Staff Sargent, Battalion Communications Chief, was awarded two battle stars and the French Croix de Guerre. Subsequently, Bill was awarded the distinction of Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion d’Honneur by the President of France. Bill was a true patriot and a life member of the VFW Post 392.

Following WWII , Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri. He relocated to Waterford, Conn. where he began what became a more than 30-year career as an electronic scientist for the US Navy, employed by the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory (NUSC). He conducted and led research and development related to underwater acoustics aboard over 30 United States naval submarines and surface ships in North and South Atlantic Oceans, Mediterranean, Norwegian, and Caribbean Seas, and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Northern Colorado. He was awarded the coveted “Decibel” award from the Technical Director of the Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory. He concluded his civil service career as science advisor to the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Fleet, Norfolk, where he served with distinction from 1979 to 1981. At the conclusion of his career, he received the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, the highest honorary award the Chief of Naval Operations may bestow upon a civilian employee.

Predeceased by his parents and his brothers William Charles Jucksch and Raymond Jucksch, Bill is survived by his bride of over 60 years, Theresa Gemma (Cattalani) Jucksch, his two sons Jeff (wife Bekki) Jucksch, and Tom Jucksch, three grandchildren, Michael, Avery, and Logan Jucksch, and two great-grandchildren, Gemma and Finley Jucksch. Bill is also survived by brothers Ronnie, Gene, and Jimmy, and a multitude of nieces, and nephews.