A Jersey Soldier’s Voice Emerges from the Past

When a long-forgotten radio program from 1944 resurfaced, Lieutenant John Markowitz's relatives heard him speak for the first time.

John Markowitz described a heroic assault in a long-forgotten radio program. Photo courtesy of Lyn B. Rutkoski

In August 1944, Lieutenant John Markowitz of Carteret led an assault on a heavily fortified German position in Saint-Malo, France. After a stubborn defense, the Germans surrendered and handed over their flag, which Markowitz and 40 members of his company proudly signed. Days later, Markowitz, who had been promoted to captain, described the battle on an NBC radio program called The Army Hour. In September, he sent the flag home to his family. The following month, Markowitz, 24, was killed in action.

Markowitz’s family had to wait four years to receive his remains. Meanwhile, the family displayed the flag at the Marquis, their tavern in Carteret. It was later moved to the firehouse next door.

Family members too young to have known Markowitz didn’t learn of the existence of the flag or the radio program until recently, thanks to an Internet search by his grandniece, Lyn Rutkoski. The flag had been rediscovered in a locker during firehouse renovations in the early 2000s and subsequently donated to the Military Technology Museum in Wall Township.

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Dan Janquitto, a museum curator, wants to feature a digitized version of the flag and the audio clip of Markowitz in an upcoming exhibit, but NBC wants a licensing fee of $1,500 for the clip. Janquitto is planning a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the fee; details were unavailable at deadline.

Janquitto and a few of Markowitz’s relatives recently got to preview the clip. For Rutkoski, hearing Markowitz’s voice was surreal. “I detected a hint of a Jersey accent,” she says. “It made me smile.” The audio strengthened her resolve to visit Saint-Malo and to see the bunker where, she says, Company K “showed the enemy what the Americans, and one Jersey boy in particular, were capable of.”

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