By Marianne Salza
The City of Revere celebrated Veterans Day with a ceremony on November 11 in honor of the men and women who put on a uniform in brave service to the country. Veterans and their families, with local officials, gathered on American Legion Lawn, now known as Charles McMackin Veterans Memorial Park.
“The month of November is surrounded by the theme of gratitude,” said State Representative Jessica Giannino. “I don’t think there is anything more American than thanking a veteran, because when we thank a veteran, we are thanking them for everything that makes this country great: our freedoms and life.”
A memorial plaque was dedicated to the World War II veteran, Sergeant Charles McMackin, who returned home to Revere on April 2, 2022, after nearly eight decades of missing in action when his plane crashed on August 1, 1943.
“Charles McMackin represented the best that this city ever gave the world,” proclaimed Steven Dreeszen, who described McMackin’s courageous story.
McMackin was a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator bomber aircraft, 0800, flying 50 missions across the English Channel and occupied France and Germany over the course of a year. The young soldier was deployed to Benghazi, Libya, for Operation Tidal Wave, as Hitler’s army was pouring into Russia.
“One-hundred-seventy-three B-24 bombers flew from Benghazi, across the Mediterranean, through Southern Europe, and hit oil fields in Ploiesti, Romania,” recounted Dreeszen. “It had been developed by American oil companies in the 1930s. When Hitler invaded Romania, he got the petroleum he needed to keep that huge army going.”
The American aircrafts were stripped of everything but gas and bombs; and were crewed by men in their early 20s who believed that if their mission was successful, they could end the war.
“Some people said it looked like a hoard of locusts filling the sky,” Dreeszen explained. “They had to observe radio silence and low altitude to avoid German radar.”
The Germans were aware of the plan directed a heavy fire to the planes. Fewer than 60 B-24s returned to Benghazi. McMackin’s bomber crashed in a field north of Bucharest, Romania, with no survivors. Farmers discovered the wreckage, and buried the crew in marked graves.
After WWII, American personnel were allowed to recover the bodies of fallen soldiers from Romania; but were unable to identify the remains of McMackin and the crew until now.
“This year, Charles McMackin’s remains were identified thanks to the DNA remains and his family. Charles came home to Revere 78 years later,” said Dreeszen, who read an excerpt from the last letter McMackin wrote to his parents in July 1943. “’I shall someday be able to tell you, I hope. The boys over here fight for you back home. Each one is fighting for a purpose: the loved ones we left behind.’”
McMackin received a military solute in front of Revere City Hall before being laid to rest in Brookline with his parents.
“While we have been separated for eight decades and thousands of miles, the McMackin name has resonated through our city as an exemplar of sacrifice in a time of immense peril. As a product of a loving family, Immaculate Conception, and Revere High School, Charles held the City of Revere near to his heart as he served his nation,” declared Mayor Brian Arrigo. “That story is a testament to service and dedication to our fallen soldiers. Charles was finally reunited with his family on American soil. It was truly a miracle.”