April 2, 1921 (Stamford, CT) – December 7, 1941; 20 years old
Listed at 93 Glenbrook Road, Stamford (1940 census)
Enlisted on July 27, 1939
Service number 6148539
Unit: 78th Pursuit Squadron, Wheeler Field
Born to Timothy (1893-1948) and Elizabeth T. Bender Horan (1895-1985). Father, Timothy, was a World War One veteran. Three brothers Francis (1928-1981), Richard (1931-2005), and Robert (1938-2010). Two sisters Catherine (1923-1947) and Audrey M. Horan Vivian (1925-2016).
Vincent Horan was killed by a Japanese bomb fragment at Hickam Field, Hawaii, 16 miles north of Pearl Harbor, on the first wave of the attack on December 7, 1941. He was a member of the 78th Pursuit Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps where he was an aviation mechanic.
Vincent Horan Park is located at Washington Blvd & Bridge Street in Stamford, CT. It runs along the Rippowam river on both sides.
From The Stamford Advocate, August 2, 1939; contributed by Ellen Sullivan, Senior Reader Services Librarian, The Ferguson Library, One Public Library Plaza, Stamford
LOCAL YOUTH, ARMY RECRUIT, AWAITING TRANSFER TO BASE
One of the four highest ranking students to take the United States Army examinations at Springfield, Massachusetts a week ago, Vincent Horan, 18, son of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy V. Horan of 97 Glenbrook Road, is temporarily stationed at Fort Slocum, New York, awaiting transfer to the Army base at Honolulu. Young Horan, who was a member of the June graduating class of Stamford High School, has been employed in his spare time as an elevator operator at the Hotel Roger Smith.
From the Stamford Advocate, December 9, 1941; contributed by Ellen Sullivan, Senior Reader Services Librarian, The Ferguson Library, One Public Library Plaza, Stamford
The Japanese bombs which rained on Hawaii Sunday morning brought sorrow to Stamford last night when Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Horan of 300 Hubbard Avenue received a telegram reporting their son, Sergeant Vincent M. Horan of the 78th Pursuit Squadron, U.S. Army Air Corps, “killed in action” at Hickam Field, Pearl Harbor defense base. The official word of death read: “Regret to inform you that the commanding general Hawaiian Department reports your son, Vincent M. Horan, killed in action, on December 7 at Hickam Field. No decision is now possible as to when the remains can be returned. You will be further advised when the shipment is contemplated. Adams, the Adjutant General, Washington D.C.” His mother had a letter from him on Friday in which he reported he would write again within a few days, and she is hopeful that he sent some message before the Japanese attack. “Vinnie” Horan was born in Stamford on April 2, 1921. He graduated from St. John’s Parochial School and Stamford High School Class of 1939. While attending high school, he was employed at the Roger Smith Hotel and that corporation sought his services in the extensive hotel chain upon his graduation. He had won several promotions while working for the hotel during after-school hours, and the management offered him a further promotion in its chain, but he desired to enlist in the Army Air Corps. One month after his graduation from high school, he enlisted, and late the following month, he was in Honolulu. He remained there until his death, although he was to have been transferred to the United States for a long furlough last August. Unsettled conditions in the Pacific resulted in his being kept there. His normal station was at Wheeler Field, about 22 miles from Hickam Field, his parents reported, and they are puzzled about his meeting death at Hickam. It is thought the first Jap attack on Wheeler Field drove the defending forces to Hickam Field, where he fell in the continuing attack. His advancement in the Army was also rapid and he held the rating of Sergeant for about a year before his death. Letters home during his service at Honolulu told of many fights over the Pacific and recounted over and over his delight in Army life, especially in Honolulu. He met many celebrities who vacationed there, and one snapshot sent to his parents was a view of young Horan and Dorothy Lamour, the movie actress seated on a beach. News of his death was a severe blow to his parents and three younger brothers and two younger sisters. The first word came by telephone and for several hours it was hoped the report was false, but later the confirming telegram was received. The father, a member of the maintenance staff of Stamford High School, is a veteran of the World War and was wounded overseas. The Brothers of the dead soldier are Francis, Richard, and Robert; sisters, Catherine and Audrey. All live with their parents.
From The Hartford Courant December 9, 1941
Stamford, Dec. 8 – (AP) – Among Connecticut’s first known casualties of the war with Japan apparently was Sergeant Vincent M. Horan of Stamford. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Horan, were reported to have received notice tonight that their son, a graduate of Stamford High School, who enlisted with the Army in June 1939, was killed in action Sunday at Hickam Field, Honolulu. Sergeant Horan leaves five brothers and sisters, besides his parents.
From The Stamford Advocate, June 10, 1942; contributed by Ellen Sullivan, Senior Reader Services Librarian, The Ferguson Library, One Public Library Plaza, Stamford
HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK DEDICATED TO TWO GRADUATES KILLED AT PEARL HARBOR
Inasmuch as most of the material in this High School commencement section of The Stamford Advocate along with the pictures were taken from “Spirit of ’42,” the Stamford High School’s yearbook published by the Senior Class, it may not be amiss to let the public know who are the boys and girls responsible for this excellent work. The first annual yearbook is published at a time when the world is engulfed in a destructive war and already graduates of Stamford High School have made the supreme sacrifice in the defense of their country. The editors of the “Spirit of ’42” note this fact in the following appropriate words: “To the two recent graduates of Stamford High School fell the lot of not only excelling in their chosen fields, not only displaying superior citizenship but making the greatest patriotic gesture that mortal man has in his power, sacrificing their lives for their country. Sergeant Vincent Joseph Horan of the United States Army Air Corps, a graduate of the Class of 1939, and Ensign William Thomas O’Neill Junior, of the United States Navy, a graduate of the Class of 1933, were killed in action while defending Pearl Harbor, Hawaii against Japanese attacks in December 1941. It is thus, as an expression of our recognition of their valor, that the Class of 1942 deems it an honor to be able to pay tribute to the memories of two outstanding Americans. To Vincent Horan and William O’Neill, we dedicate this issue to the “Spirit of ’42.”
From stamfordadvocate.com December 6, 2016
“The feeling around Stamford the day after the attack was probably very similar to that around the rest of the country — shock,” said Tony Pavia, a former Stamford High School history teacher and principal. “The difference was probably that Stamford then was not what it is now. It felt very much like a small town.”
Horan was so well-loved that a park now bears his name and the former Rippowam High School was almost named Horan High School.
“When Vincent Horan was killed, the police chief and the editor of The Advocate found out first and went over to tell his mother,” Pavia said. “They didn’t want someone showing up at the door to tell her. It was really a trauma.”
From “An American Town Goes To War” by Tony Pavia; an interview with Sergeant Horan’s sister
“He was the only one in his squadron who was killed. The War Department later told us that during the attack he was running down the hangar line, and he was hit in the chest by shrapnel from one of the bombs that the Japanese dropped. He lay there for hours before anyone could reach him. He died from loss of blood.”
Buried at Saint John Cemetery, 25 Camp Avenue, Darien, Connecticut; Section 16, Plot 46. Photos by webmaster.