Sylvan Jacob Naron

Certified accountant and former partner in a Baltimore accounting firm wrote about his World War II experiences.

December 16, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,

Sylvan Jacob Naron, a retired certified accountant and former partner in a Baltimore accounting firm who wrote a detailed account of his World War II experiences, died of heart failure Dec. 8 at North Oaks retirement community. He was 88.

Mr. Naron, who was born in Baltimore and grew up on Upper Park Heights Avenue, graduated in 1937 from City College.

After graduating from the Johns Hopkins University in 1940, Mr. Naron went to work as a 50-cents-an-hour mechanic at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River, building the famed Martin PBM flying boats for the Navy.

He later was transferred to the industrial engineering department, where he remained until being drafted into the Army in 1944.

After serving with an anti-tank squad in Europe, Mr. Naron was discharged in 1946 with the rank of staff sergeant and returned to Baltimore.

Mr. Naron worked as an accountant and later became a senior partner and president of Naron & Wagner, Chartered, an accounting firm that had offices in Baltimore, Annapolis, Hagerstown and Washington.

"He was extremely well-regarded by clients and colleagues in the accounting profession," said a son, Steve E. Naron of Potomac.

"He had the respect of the Internal Revenue Service because it was known that he dealt honestly with all," he said. "Likewise, he guided his clients to always be honest with him."

He retired in 1990.

Mr. Naron hadn't thought much about his World War II experiences until early 2004, while recovering from several heart attacks at a second home in Hollywood Beach, Fla.

At the urging of his wife, the former Doris Hament, a Glenn L. Martin Co. inspector whom he married in 1944, he began compiling a memoir of his wartime experiences.

"Dad was definitely urged into writing this by my mother. Otherwise, he never would have told his story. His incredible lifelong modesty and honesty comes out in this," his son said.

"In between 18 holes of golf and Doris' encouragement [insistence], I have now completed writing about a number of Army experiences which are still engraved on my mind like it was yesterday," the elder Mr. Naron wrote.

"It has been 60 years since I was drafted into the U.S. Army. When I told a friend I was writing about my wartime experiences, he questioned if I was writing my wartime memoirs so I could do some bragging - Brag - No - well, maybe some."

After completing training at Camp Blanding near Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Naron was briefly stationed at Fort Meade before being sent to Camp Kilmer, N.J., and then to New York City, where he embarked on a Liberty ship for Le Havre, France.

After leave was canceled, a plucky uncle of Mrs. Naron's managed to smuggle her onto the base for a final visit.

"Can I someday still be thrown in the stockade for notifying my wife where I was stationed during wartime and allowing her to visit there?" Mr. Naron wrote.

"I was sitting on my cot in my bunk when someone told me to go to the PX. There was Uncle Lou Hament with Doris lying in the back of his car," he wrote. "We had about 15 or 20 minutes together. Remember, this was wartime and total secrecy and security was in order."

Once overseas, Mr. Naron was sent in as a replacement during the Battle of the Bulge when he joined an anti-tank squad assigned to the 26th Infantry of the 1st Army.

"Our combat duty was laying anti-tank mines at night. ... The fields were all snow covered," he wrote. "One night, while laying mines, we encountered rifles firing at us. Instantly I jumped into a fox hole and seconds later our second lieutenant landed on top of me."

On one of their nocturnal journeys, he recalled encountering frozen dead G.I.s "stacked liked cordwood"; on another, he saw frozen dead German soldiers, cattle and dogs littering an entire area.

"Oddly, I do not remember any fear in all the mine laying. It might have been because we were more scared when we were being trucked to the area to be mined that the mines in the truck would accidentally be detonated," Mr. Naron wrote.

"It never happened. We were not sure that if a tank went over the mine field that they would actually explode," he wrote.

In the spring of 1945, they crossed into Germany where they encountered another enemy with which they had to contend: Mud.

"From that time on, except for a week or so in tents mired by mud, we stayed in houses in towns, in farm houses, and in tents on farmland," he wrote.

Mr. Naron recalled being sent to a rest area with "good showers, food and music. When I heard 'Chatanooga Choo-Choo' tears came to my eyes."

On April 12, 1945, word spread that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died, and Mr. Naron and his fellow soldiers listened to Axis Sally announce the president's death over German propaganda radio.

"She was laughing and making remarks about Roosevelt's death, about the 'Jew Roosevelt,' etc.," he wrote. "No announcements or any specific information or recognition of this event was forthcoming from the officers."

When the war ended on May 8, Mr. Naron wrote that wine was served with dinner that night to mark the end of the conflict.

Mr. Naron was sent to Nuremberg, where he was an information sergeant during the war-crimes trials of the Nazi hierarchy.

He was required to present several lectures to G.I.s.

"The subject that I received and which got the most undivided attention of the G.I's was a lecture of venereal disease. The room was deadly quiet," he wrote.

In the spring of 1946, Mr. Naron, who had been decorated with the Bronze Star, was discharged.

"All this adventure in just a little bit less than two years of service," he wrote.

The former longtime Pikesville resident was an avid golfer and a member of the Woodholme Country Club and the Hollywood Golf Club.

Mrs. Naron, who had taught third grade at Wellwood Elementary School, died in 2007.

He was a member of Temple Oheb Shalom.

Services were held Thursday.

Also surviving are another son, Paul R. Naron of Coconut Grove, Fla.; and six grandchildren.

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