Gene Fellmeth - Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Gene Fellmeth

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: December 14, 1924 Massillon, OH
Date and Place of Death:    March 18, 2013 Canal Fulton, OH
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: First Base/Outfield
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Military Unit: 351st Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group US Army Air Force
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Eugene M. "Gene" Fellmeth, son of William and Rowena Fellmeth, was born on December 14, 1924, in Massillon, Ohio. He grew up in Canal Fulton, Ohio, where his father ran a confectionary store, and attended Canal Fulton High School, where he played baseball, football and basketball. Upon graduation in 1942, Fellmeth attended Wittenberg College (now Wittenberg University) in Springfield, Ohio, where he continued to play baseball and basketball.

Fellmeth worked for the Firestone Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, during the summer, and entered military service on August 21, 1943. Serving with the Army Air Force, he trained at St. Louis, Missouri, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where he received his gunner's wings in November 1943. He then trained at Tampa, Florida, and Gulfport, Mississippi, before leaving for duty overseas with the 351st Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group at Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk, England.

Staff Sergeant Fellmeth was a tail gunner on a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, starting October 28, 1944, and the 100th Bomb Group was known as "The Bloody Hundredth", because of its reputation for losing a high number of aircraft and crews.

On December 31, 1944, Fellmeth's B-17, "Humpty Dumpty," was shot down on the 13th mission over Hamburg, Germany. The plane took a direct hit during its bomb run, which knocked out the electricity and power, as well as the number #1 and #4 engines. The crew successfully bailed out and were immediately taken prisoner by the Germans. They were taken to an interrogation center in Oberursel, near Frankfurt, before being sent to Stalag Luft I, near Barth, on the Baltic Sea.

Prior to this mission, Fellmeth had been awarded the Air Medal for "exceptionally meritorious achievement." The medal had been sent home and as his younger brother, William, Jr., was unwrapping the package, a telegram was received from the War Department to say that Gene was missing in action.

Stalag I was liberated by the Russians in May 1945, and Fellmeth returned home to the United States. He graduated from Wittenberg in 1948, and was selected as an All-Ohio basketball player in 1947 and 1948, as well as All-Ohio Conference 1946-1948. In 1949, the 24-year-old first baseman/outfielder signed with the Portsmouth A's - a Philadelphia Athletics farm team in the Class D Ohio-Indiana League. Fellmeth played 77 games and batted .240. He was back with Portsmouth in 1950, but realised his future wasn't in baseball. he graduated from Cleveland Marshall Law School (now Cleveland State University) in 1951, and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1951, and was a practicing lawyer from 1951 to 1983.

During his time practicing law, Fellmeth was a Prosecutor for Massillon Municipal Court in 1953, Law Director for the Village of Canal Fulton in 1954, and then again from 1960 to 1974, Mayor for the Village of Canal Fulton from 1955 to 1959, and 1975 to 1983, Law Director for the Village of Navarre in 1965, and Recorder of Stark County from 1980 to 1983. He was later elected Judge of Massillon Municipal Court where he served from 1983 until his retirement in 1996. After retirement he served as an Active Retired Visiting Judge.

Gene Fellmeth, who was inducted into the Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Honor in 1988, passed away on March 18, 2013, in Canal Fulton, Ohio. He was 88 years old and is buried Canal Fulton Cemetery.

Date Added January 30, 2018

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