In March 1945, the headlines told of “Tank Jet Planes Pounding Japan” and “Allies Menacing Hanover 142 Miles West of Berlin: Yanks Heading for Leipzig at Wild Mile-a-Minute Pace.”
It appeared the end of World War II was imminent.
At the same time, Mr. and Mrs. Gentz were informed at their home at 79 Stratham Street in South Lowell their son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Julius Gentz had been killed in action in Serrig, Germany. Another son, U.S. Army Pvt. Thomas Gentz had been killed in action the previous year, Feb. 8, 1944 on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific. A third brother serving in the U.S. Army in New Guinea was sent home to the United States upon the death of his second brother.
The Gentz family was the fourth in Lowell to lose two sons to the war.
“This is really sad,” City Council Bill Martin remarked at Saturday’s dedication of the Morton Street Bridge in honor of the Gentz Brothers. “The war was approaching an end, but young people were still killed so close to the end of the war in the prime of their lives.”
State Rep. Dave Nangle (D-Lowell) sponsored the bill in the Legislature that made the renaming of the Morton Street Bridge in honor of the Gentz Brothers a reality. The effort was spearheaded by Lowell resident Warren Muldoon.
“They left 79 Stratham Street and crossed this bridge to Bougainville and Germany and they never came back,” Muldoon said, his voice cracking.
Donoghue noted her father served in World War II and was lucky enough to come home, but “we never forget the ones who didn’t.”
She added we must not only reflect upon the sacrifice made by the two young men who lost their lives for their country, but also the sacrifice of their family “that goes on for generations.”
In addition to their parents, Thomas and Julius Gentz left behind two brothers and four sisters. On Saturday morning, several of their descendants gathered at the bridge for the official unveiling of the “Gentz Brothers Memorial Bridge” signs at each end of the railroad bridge that was replaced in 2010.
Joining the family in the celebration were: Nangle, Donoghue, Martin, Mayor Patrick Murphy and City Councilors Rita Mercier, Marty Lorrey, and John Leahy.
“This is a great honor and tribute to my two uncles, my grandmother and grandfather and their brothers and sisters,” said Ray Stanton, nephew of the Gentz Brothers.