Joseph John Cingel

Male 1916 - 2002  (85 years)

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  • Name Joseph John Cingel 
    Born 7 Sep 1916  Clarence, Centre, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 27 May 2002  Clarence, Centre, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 

      Good morning. Today, I want to tell you a little about World War II and specifically about the Battle at the Remagen Bridge. Few places can stir World War II memories as the bridge at Remagen, Germany, midway between Koblenz and Cologne. In fact, the history making events surrounding the bridge have inspired poems, feature movies, books and several TV programs, all with good reason.

      Originally built between 1916 and 1918, the bridge was constructed as a two-track railway bridge. Located in a small German town on the Rhine River, it had operational significance during the First World War, but it was during World War II when the bridge truly became well-known.

      The story of the Remagen Bridge is on one hand, the story of the fight to capture it as well as to defend or destroy it. On the other hand, the episode marks the beginning of the end of World War II in the west of the German Reich. The action at the bridge is a moving human story and a brilliant stroke of military daring.

      Although the Germans intended to destroy the bridge, they were unsuccessful. Several attempts failed, thus the Americans were given a clear passage over the Rhine, altering the course of the war.

      Though the Americans held the bridgehead from early March 1945, the Germans were still not ready to give up their efforts to destroy the bridge at Remagen. On March 15, twenty-one fast bombers flew in to attack the structure, but they too were unable to destroy it. Hitler then ordered divers from the German navy to attempt underwater attacks, though they arrived too late to finish off the weakened structure.

      Shortly after 3 p.m. on the afternoon of March 17, 1945, with a sickening roar of torn steel, the bridge at Remagen collapsed, and fell into the Rhine. The collapse was probably from the vibrations of the constant repair work, the antiaircraft batteries and the explosives hitting nearby. Of the 200 Allied engineers working on it at the time, 93 were wounded and 28 killed. The destruction, ten days after it was liberated by the U.S. did not, however, alter the American advance east of the Rhine, as a pontoon bridge had already been completed.

      Visitors approaching the bridge today, either on the Rhine River or along it’s banks, will see two towers, all that is left of the original bridge on the west bank. The east bank has two similar dark towers.

      In honor of the Americans who died there, an American flag proudly flies from atop one tower on the west bank. What remains of the bridge is home to the Peace Museum, dedicated to the bridge in which the events and the dramatic scenes of March 7th, 1945 are portrayed. Last Friday, March 7th, 2003 was the 58th Anniversary of the bridge’s capture and this coming Monday, March 17th is the anniversary of its collapse.

      Many of you are probably wondering why I am giving a History Brief on the Bridge at Remagen. The reason is very simple. A Private First Class Joseph John Cingel Army, was on that bridge sometime during the capture. He was my Father. A little piece of history that is not mentioned in any History books, but that is important to me. He passed away in May 2002 at the age of 85. During the wake, many relatives that I hadn’t seen in years were reminiscing about my Dad. My brothers and sisters and I learned a lot about our Dad and what he did in World War II. Apparently, he told of being on the bridge while German aircraft were attacking it. The planes were so low that my Dad could see the faces of the pilots as he was crossing to the German side.

      A movie “The Bridge at Remagen” was made in the late 1960’s starring Ben Gazarra and George Segal. In the early 70’s my husband, sons, and I were home on leave and the movie came on television. We were sitting there with my family quietly watching the movie and very softly and calmly my Dad says, “See where that guy is standing? I was standing right there.” We all turned around to look at him, having had no idea that he had been there during the war. We started asking questions and he wouldn’t talk about it. He had said enough and it was no big deal to him, it happened, it’s over, let’s watch the movie. Later on that evening we tried to get him to talk about what happened, to no avail.

      After crossing the Rhine, Dad was in the vicinity of Bruchhausen, Germany and on March 9th, 1945, with three other soldiers, he won a Bronze Star for defending the unit’s flank using hand grenades and small arms fire.

      Every once in a while, out of the clear blue something would trigger a memory and he would tell a little more about his experiences. He spoke fluent Slovak, so he was used as an interpreter, since the Slovak and Russian languages are similar. He helped liberate one of the concentration camps and I have the pictures that he took of the camp. He was in Paris after it was liberated and arrangements were made by the American Red Cross for Dad and his brother Andy (also in the Army and in Paris at the time) to have a “reunion.” We have a photo of them sitting on a tank, in their uniforms, in the middle of some street in Paris.

      There are a number of reasons why I decided to share this information with you today. First, my Dad was a member of “The Greatest Generation” as members of the era were described by Tom Brokaw in his book of the same title. “If we are to heed the past to prepare for the future, we should listen to those quiet voices of a generation that speak to us of duty and honor, sacrifice and accomplishment.”

      Secondly, if you know of someone, father, mother, uncle, friend, neighbor that was in any war, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, take the time to ask questions and, if they will discuss their experiences, write down what they have to say. Don’t make the same mistake my family made and say “We’ll do it someday” and then someday it’s too late.

      Lastly, my Dad passed away on the observed Memorial Day holiday in 2002 and was buried on the actual holiday. Memorial Day now takes on a special significance for me and my family. He was a good man who volunteered to serve, served proudly, and lived a quiet life with little, if any, mention of his military experience. This brief was to honor my Dad’s memory. Thank you.
    Person ID I01482  McKenzie Genealogy
    Last Modified 15 Jan 2019 

    Father Steve Cingle,   d. UNKNOWN 
    Relationship natural 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F00809  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Veronica Genevieve Kochik,   b. 20 Aug 1919, Clarence, Centre, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 24 Jan 2010, Lemont, Centre, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 90 years) 
    Married Private 
     1. Christine Ann Cingel,   b. Private  [private]
     2. Geraldine Diane Cingel,   b. Private  [private]
     3. JoAnn Elaine Cingel,   b. Private  [private]
     4. Raymond Lee Cingel,   b. Private  [private]
     5. Helen Veronica Cingel,   b. Private  [private]
     6. Patrick Joseph Cingel,   b. Private  [private]
    Last Modified 15 Jan 2019 
    Family ID F00016  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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