George Sack  WWII

GEORGE SACK - OBITUARY

Feb. 25, 1918 - December 4, 2015 

George Sack, a former Army medic who landed at Normandy on D-Day and later co-founded a wholesale delicatessen distributing firm, died Dec. 4, 2015 of respiratory failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 97.

The son of Russian immigrants Samuel Sack, a businessman, and Katie Dezure Sack, a homemaker, George Sack was born in Baltimore, Maryland, February 25, 1918 and raised in a home on Woodcrest Avenue.

He graduated from City College in 1936. He decided to enlist in the Army in 1940 after walking past the 104th Regiment Armory and noticing a recruiting poster of a soldier in a freshly pressed uniform.

Mr. Sack was assigned to Co. C, 104th Medical Battalion, 175th Regiment, of Maryland's 29th Division, and was sent to Camp Blanding, Fla., where he received medical training.

 

Because they were training in the heat and humidity of Florida, Mr. Sack and his fellow soldiers thought they would be sent to the Pacific. After completing training, his unit boarded a troop train for Camp Kilmer, N.J., which was a staging area for European-bound troops.

 

He said in a 2012 YouTube interview that even after boarding the Cunard Line's RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York Harbor, he and other members of his company were unaware where they were going until they figured out they were sailing east, which meant Europe.

After landing in Scotland, Mr. Sack and his unit traveled to England and trained for the invasion of Europe.

The morning of the invasion, June 6, 1944, Mr. Sack recalled the rough voyage across the English Channel and hearing over the ship's intercom Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's message to the troops about to land in France.

 

"He said, 'Soldiers, sailors and airmen. You are about to embark upon a great crusade, and the eyes of the world are upon you,''' recalled Mr. Sack in the video. "And then he said something like, 'Some of you might not be coming back,' and I thought maybe that's me."

After landing some 1,000 feet from their intended target as part of the first wave at Omaha Beach, Mr. Sack could see Germans firing from a high ridge as he ran to his unit's objective, which was the Vierville Draw. "There was no place to hide, and they were taking potshots at us," he said.

"The dead were stacked on the seawall like cordwood. People were floating in the sea face down and face up. They had never made it to the beach. The water was red. That's why they called it 'Bloody Omaha,'" he said.

On patrol several days later, Mr. Sack and his squad came under heavy artillery fire and were forced to return to their company.

Mr. Sack said his staff sergeant was Irving Pearlman, whom he had known in Baltimore.

"He had a high chest with a high breast bone which he would touch. He called it his 'hope chest.' I said, 'Irv what do you mean calling it your hope chest?' and he said, 'Georgie, someday I hope I can take it home.'"

"One day a piece of shrapnel hit his hope chest, and it killed him," said Mr. Sack in the YouTube interview. Sergeant Pearlman was killed July 30, 1944, and is buried in Normandy's American Cemetery.

Mr. Sack then became the unit's staff sergeant in a battlefield promotion. "That's not the way I wanted it. He was one of my best friends," said Mr. Sack. Of his wartime experiences, he said, "I have too many memories."

"I was never a religious man, but they say there are no atheists in foxholes. I prayed every night," said Mr. Sack. He said the 23rd Psalm — "The Lord is my shepherd" — sustained him.

"I said it every night in my foxhole," he said.

"He went through the entire war without a scratch and told the story of leaving his foxhole, which was hit by enemy fire two minutes later," said his daughter, Karen R. Sack of Pikesville.

He was a participant in the Veterans History Project, an effort of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress that collects, preserves and makes accessible recollections of American war veterans.

Mr. Sack was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant in 1945 and returned to Baltimore, where in 1946 he was co-founder — with brother-in-law Morton Bober — of Sack & Bober Inc. The company was a wholesale distributor and manufacturer of delicatessen products, first located on Exeter Street and later on Windsor Avenue. It closed in 1988 when the partners retired.

After retiring, Mr. Sack worked as a Maryland National Bank courier for about seven years. From age 85 until he turned 90, he volunteered at Northwest Hospital's ambulatory surgical unit in Randallstown.

He was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and had been a member for 25 years of the Maryland Yacht Club.

Mr. Sack was a lifelong member of VFW Post 521 in Owings Mills and Free State Jewish War Veterans, and had been a member of the advisory committee at the Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery.

A Mason, he was also a lifetime member of Yedz Grotto and St. John's Masonic Lodge. He was a founding member of Beth Israel Synagogue in Randallstown.

The former longtime Randallstown resident had lived with his daughter in recent years.

"He was a proud and strong-willed person who drove until he was 90," his daughter said. "Daddy exemplified patriotism, strong work ethic and principles."

His wife of 55 years, the former Belle Essrick, died in 2003.

Funeral services were held Thursday at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Sack is survived by a son, Dr. Stanley A. Sack of Pikesville; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

frasmussen@baltsun.com

1/6