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In the summer of 1994, while at his mother's apartment in Lynn, Massachusetts, Roland came upon a box of photos that his father had taken during his service in World War II between 1943 and 1945. While he had known of the existence of these photographs for close to thirty years, the exact location of these photos was not known until then. While inventorying these photos, medals, newspaper clippings, etc. for the first time in nearly thirty years, Roland began too remember the few but poignant remarks that his father had made about his World War II experience. His father would recollect the V1 "Buzz Bombs" flying overhead on cold late November through January days and nights in 1944-1945, while in Belgium on their way to England or Allied staging areas in France, German snipers shooting at Company A members while building a bridge across Germany’s Seig river, and Luftwaffer ME 262's (jet fighter) strafing Company A near Germany’s Roer River in March of 1945. As these memories of his father's wartime experience flooded his mind, Roland's appreciation of the meaning and impact these photographs had on his father's memory of the war and his understanding of his father's role in the 20th century's most important event began to crystallize. As Roland continued to look through these black and white memories of World War II, he began to feel a commitment to his deceased father and his generation to make these photos public so that others could share this wartime experience.
Between the summers of 1995 and 1998, Roland began to construct how he wanted his father's photos to be viewed and preserved for later generations. In 1997, he contacted several publishers to learn more about the publishing process he would need to know in order to publish his father's photos in a commercial illustrative form. Simultaneously, he contacted several national universities and colleges to possibly donate these photographs to their history departments for use in research and teaching World War II. To his surprise and delight, the response from both publishers and universities was very encouraging. However, organizing and presenting such a collection of photos proved to be a labor of love as his weekends, during this period, were consumed selecting, scanning and editing hundreds of original photos, and researching the historical movements for the 348th Combat Engineers.
During that time Roland was teaching several business courses at Salem State College in Salem Massachusetts. In the summer of 1998, he contacted their history department to notify them of his interest in donating a digitized CD ROM version of his father's photos for use by the history department. His message was forwarded to Christopher Mauriello, the modern European historian for the department. Unbeknownst to Roland, Chris had also come upon a box of World War II letters that his father had written to his family back in Boston between 1943 and 1945. He too felt a deep commitment to his father and the World War II generation to make these letters public so that others could share his wartime memories.
In a strikingly parallel way, Chris had been searching for ways to make his father's private war documents accessible to the public. In 1993, while a Ph.D. candidate in history at Brown University, he was cleaning out the basement of his aunt's home in Massachusetts when he discovered a box of World War II letters that his father had written to his family back in Boston between 1943 and 1945. As a side project to his research on modern European history, he began to read, transcribe, annotate, and historically contextualize the over 250 letters he discovered. He discussed the project with both colleagues in the historical field and editors of major university presses. Like Roland, he too felt a commitment to his father and the World War II generation to make these letters public so that others could share his wartime memories.
With these shared commitments, we met for coffee to introduce ourselves and review each other's collections. Immediately we recognized the powerful parallels between the images and the words. We soon discovered that the parallels ran even deeper. Both of our fathers were sons of European immigrants that settled and lived in the Boston area. Roland J. Regan, Sr. was of Irish descent and was raised in Lynn, Massachusetts. Frederick J. Mauriello was of Italian descent and was raised in Dorchester and Revere, Massachusetts. Both volunteered for active service in the U.S. Army in 1942 and 1943 respectively. Between the summer of 1944 and 1945 both experienced similar paths in combat against the German army including “The Battle of the Bulge”. Roland Regan in the First Army, 348th Army Combat Engineering Battalion, Company A and Frederick Mauriello in the 309th Field Artillery Battalion 78th Division. The parallels between these two wartime experiences form the basis of this book. In May of 2001, the Boston College history department and the Bapst (Burns) Library on campus accepted and became the official custodian of over two hundred of Roland's father's original photographs and other WWII artifacts and memorabilia for use by 20th century historians and researchers at both the university and throughout the ACC academic community (see the Regan biography link for additional information regarding the donation).
While we have added a brief narrative history and captions to the photographs and the letters to provide the necessary historical context, we believe that the original documents speak for themselves. We hope they do justice to the memory of the wartime experiences of our fathers and their "greatest generation." Furthermore, to commemorate our respective father's memories, a scholarship foundation for Boston College in their names has been devised to assist deserving students from Lynn and Revere Massachusetts who are accepted and attend Boston College from the revenues generated from the sales of From Boston to Berlin. This scholarship will become available upon the foundation reaching its minimum goal of $100,000.00 to ensure the scholarship in perpetuity. We feel our commitment to these two scholarship funds for future generations is in keeping with our father's mutual commitments to their generation. More information concerning the scholarship fund can be found on our website.
Roland J. Regan, Jr.
Christopher E. Mauriello