Whitman will honor the service and sacrifice of Pvt. Robert Lonergan of Whitman at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 12. Lonergan was killed in the Battle of North Africa 77 years ago on May 13, 1943. The Town will unveil a plaque in his memory outside of his former family home at 44 Broad St., in Whitman. Lonergan was the first soldier from Whitman killed in WWII while in the service of the United States Army.
Pvt. Lonergan was 39 years old when he enlisted in the army on July 31, 1942 and he served for nine months prior to his death. He was a member of the 47 Infantry – 9th Division that landed in November of 1942 on the beaches of Safi, Morocco. The Division continued with their successful campaign across North Africa to their final battle at Tunis, Tunisia which drove the German armies from the continent. This campaign represented the first direct engagement between American and German troops in WWII. Pvt. Longergan was killed on the last day of the campaign as a result of a land mine explosion.
Pvt. Lonergan was buried at the North Africa American Cemetery in Tunis Tunisia along with 2840 other Americans killed during the North Africa Campaign. The cemetery also memorializes the names of an additional 3724 members of the service that are listed as Missing in Action.
Pvt. Lonergan was the son of Delia and Patrick Lonergan who immigrated to this country from Ireland. His brothers Edward and Francis also served in the armed services during World War II. At the time of his death Private Lonergan left behind 8 brothers and sisters who are all now deceased.