John Nicholas Comuntzis was born March 14, 1914 in Fairmont, Marion County, West Virginia to N. J. Comuntzis and Cornelia Comuntzis. John was raised by his mother and step-father, Mr. J. G. Papageorge, who operated the Star restaurant in Fairmont. John and his sister Pauline graduated from Fairmont Senior High School and both attended Carnegie Tech, where John graduated in civil engineering.
John enlisted in the service in 1940 and was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Army. He could have served in a non-combat nature, but chose to go to the Philippines, arriving there in November, 1941. John was captured as a prisoner of war when the Philippines fell in 1942.
John was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Shinyo Maru, John lost his life on September 7, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine. His death was received by the War Department on February 14, 1945.
John was awarded the Purple Heart and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, John Nicholas Comuntzis's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and John's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History