Maheras – Gentry Field  #60

TWO HALVES MAKE IT WHOLE

7.25.2015 Yesterday, WDET published a wonderful story regarding Bronson Gentry.  Below is the other half of the story on Peter Maheras.

On Peter Maheras..

All who knew him, loved him and enjoyed working with him because of his patience and perseverance in surmounting obstacles. We felt that we had lost a true and good friend, when we heard of his passing, but his memory consoles us in our loss. We believe that he was all that being a good American means.  We who knew Peter believe we are better off, by having known him and having the privilege of calling him, my friend, Peter Maheras. Sincerely,  Curtis Laing – Mantle Club Secretary, 1947

JUST CALL ME PETE

Friends were important part of Peter Maheras’ life… “Just call me Pete” was what he would say to them. As a young immigrant Detroiter, he delivered newspapers and used the cash earned to shower his friends with his generosity.  He was active in sports at Southeastern High School – golfing, skating, baseball, swimming etc. and became the manager of the football team.  His yearbook entry indicated his desire to attend Wayne State Medical School. His true love however was working on old radios. This skill would help him finally enter the military. 

At 16, Maheras graduated from Southeastern High and he took his first job with Briggs Manufacturing.  Later, he went on to Norge Aircraft.   In 1939, he became a member of the Detroit Mantle Club – a service based organization.  His exuberance was felt through the club as he was active in Red Cross efforts and WWII War Bond sales; he became a club officer in 1941.

Photo: 1934 Aryan
Photo: 1934 Aryan

PERSEVERANCE  

In 1942 while at Norge Aircraft, World War II was underway.  He tried to enlist several times being rejected for bad eyesight.  A personal letter from a friend indicates that he was ‘trying to exercise’ his eyes to get in on the join; the plan failed.  Finally in 1943, the Army decided they needed Peter. In line with his hobby, he was assigned to the Radio Signal Corp.

Working as an aid medic with the 81st Medical Battalion, 11th Armored Division, he was accompanying an infantry platoon on January 14, 1945 in a wooded area.  The platoon was under heavy fire and became trapped.  When two men became wounded, Maheras didn’t hesitate to crawl through machine gun fire to administer aid. He used his body to shield the men, was struck and died. He received the Silver Star and Purple Heart posthumously and is interred in the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery.

Algonquin Field [est. 1928] on the Detroit River was renamed to remember this incredibly determined fellow. The location was truly perfect as Greek immigrants George and Bessie Maheras raised their family in the neighborhood leading to the park entrance.  Large sections of the land to make up Algonquin Field were acquired in 1928, 1943, 1954 and 1957. At the conclusion of World War II, temporarily housing for returning veterans was built on the site remaining there until the early 1950’s – probably quonset huts.

In 1997, the field was renamed Maheras – Gentry  to additionally honor the dedication of Bronson Gentry, an expert horse shoe player and community activist.

The field offers a nice view of the river and Belle Isle.
The field offers a nice view of the river and Belle Isle.

I was so happy to find personal details of this exceptional young Detroiter.  Other versions regarding Peter are short and list him as an early death in WWII.  I don’t perceive that to be correct as he was not accepted in the Army until Nov 1943, shipped out to Europe in Aug 1944, and died in early 1945.  As always, thanks for reading and remembering Peter.  ag

All rights reserved, Andrea Gallucci 2015