Oct. 4, 1925 – May 2, 2017
A World War II battle with German machine gunners landed Daniel F. Stackpoole in a military hospital for four months in 1945. Pvt. Stackpoole of the Ninth Infantry Division, eventually healed from the wound to his upper thigh.
But many other young men perished in the battle, and Mr. Stackpoole struggled with guilt over his own survival. He spent a lifetime trying to recover from the physical and emotional toll of the war, according to family members.
"He really went through a lot for those two years, enough where for the following 70 years he dealt with it," said his nephew, Robert Sonberg.
Mr. Stackpoole, a decorated World War II veteran, died May 2 in the Buffalo VA Medical Center. He was 91.
The Lackawanna native attended Buffalo Public School 33 and enlisted in the Army at age 18. He fought in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Remagen and was injured on three separate combat missions during his two-year tour of duty.
Mr. Stackpoole received a Silver Star for his bazooka attack on a German pillbox in the Hurtgen Forest battle. He also was awarded three Purple Hearts, including one presented to him by the famed general William Westmoreland.
He was honorably discharged in 1945 and worked as a fundraiser in the Archdiocese of St. Louis before moving back to the Buffalo area. Mr. Stackpoole was married briefly and divorced. His war wounds included shrapnel lodged inside his chest. Doctors worried that the shrapnel was too close to his heart to be removed safely, so it remained there until his death, according to his brother, Robert Stackpoole.
Those wounds also rendered him unable to work after 1968, said his nephew.
"He tried but he was just going through too much mental anguish," Sonberg said. "Between his physical wounds and his mental wounds, he had a really hard time."
A poem he titled "It's My Destiny" reflected on the harrowing wartime experiences, and a dispute with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over his disability benefits that followed.
"I think he wrote it out of frustration," said his nephew. "That was his way of striking back."
At an early age, Mr. Stackpoole developed a love of music, especially classical music, and he built a collection of more than 2,000 albums featuring the music of composers such as Gershwin, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.
Two weeks before his death, he donated a prized recording of Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso singing "Ave Maria" to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
One of Mr. Stackpoole's nephews hand-delivered the album to conductor JoAnn Falletta, who accepted the record on stage at Kleinhans Music Hall during a rehearsal and returned a thank you note, which reached Mr. Stackpoole's hospice bedside.
"When he got the letter he was just thrilled," Sonberg said.
He frequently sang Irish songs at family outings and United Service Organization events.
Mr. Stackpoole was a member of the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In addition to his brother, he is survived by many nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Ridge Road and South Park Avenue, Lackawanna.