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2nd Lt Alexander MacIvor

2nd Lt Alexander MacIvor

134th Infantry Regiment - Company K

Alexander MacIvor was born on February 4, 1916, in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, to Robert A. MacIvor (1883-1949) and his wife Margaret B. MacDonald MacIvor (1885-1974), He had three older sisters (Bertha, Jean, and Maryann), and a younger brother and sister (Jack and Norma). In December 1922, Alexander moved with his family to Erie, Pennsylvania. By 1941, he was attending Pennsylvania State University, and was inducted into the Army on October 22, 1941 at New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. After serving in a variety of administrative positions at stateside bases, MacIvor was accepted into Infantry Officer Candidate School in June 1943. On August 21, 1943, he graduated and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He served as an instructor at the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, before being assigned to Company K of the 134th Infantry Regiment at Camp Rucker, Alabama, in September 1943. MacIvor's unit participated in the Second Army Tennessee Maneuvers that winter.


On July 17, 1944, Lieutenant MacIvor was seriously wounded while fighting near St. Lo, Normandy, France. Struck in the mouth by a German machine gun bullet, MacIvor's commanding officer, Captain Richard Melcher, believed he was killed instantly when a German shell blew up squarely on the litter bearer team intended to take him to the rear. Unbeknownst to Melcher, MacIvor got up and continued to fight, before being hit in the side by a German machine pistol bullet which paralyzed him from the waist down. On a Company K morning report, MacIvor was listed as seriously wounded and evacuated. On July 22, 1944, the 134th Infantry Regiment received a report from the temporary United States Military Cemetery at La Cambe, France, stating that Alexander MacIvor had been buried there, identified as such through personal effects found on his remains. He was then erroneously reported in the regimental battle casualty report for July 24, 1944 as having died of his wounds on July 18.


After it was later established that MacIvor was alive, these remains were reclassified as unidentifiable, and designated Unknown X-481. In 2017, Unknown X-481 was matched to S/Sgt. Gerald Lenard "Jerry" Jacobsen using DNA, dental and anthropological analysis, and historical evidence.

Lieutenant MacIvor was received at the regimental aid station at 6:45 PM on July 17, and transferred to the 3rd Unit, 51st Field Hospital for surgery, arriving at 7:35 PM. He was later sent to the 44th Evacuation Hospital on July 18, arriving again at 7:35 PM. On July 23, 1944, MacIvor was sent to the 67th General Hospital to prepare him for evacuation to the United States. He arrived at Mitchel Field, New York, on August 21, 1944.


Meanwhile, on August 7, 1944, MacIvor's mother Margaret received a War Department telegram notifying her that her son had died of his wounds in France. On August 14, 1944, MacIvor's father Robert received a letter from his son dated August 6, after the supposed date of his death. Alexander's parents contacted the War Department, who reiterated the fact that their son was deceased. MacIvor's mother was shocked to receive a phone call from her son on August 21, notifying her that he was alive and had arrived safely in the United States. After having lost an extreme amount of weight since being wounded, MacIvor was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on August 25, 1944, for a lengthy period of recovery and rehabilitation. He was honorably discharged from the Army on September 6, 1945.


MacIvor later regained limited use of his legs, but was forced to walk using crutches for the rest of his life. He worked as the chief registrar of voters for Erie County, and taught boat navigation and piloting for the United States Power Squadrons. In 1959, MacIvor was featured on the talk show "This Is Your Life," hosted by Ralph Edwards, in an episode called "The Man Who Came Back From The Dead." MacIvor later married Jeanne A. Vetrone (1930-2007) in 1966; they did not have any children. Alexander MacIvor died in Pennsylvania on March 12, 1996, at the age of 80.


"Lt Alexander 'Sandy' MacIvor - The Man Who Came Back From the Dead" - "This Is Your Life', Season 8, Episode 31, aired May 11, 1960


Chronological Record of Military Service


Thanks to Nicholas Tuma of the Nebraska National Guard Museum for this information.


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