Orange resident remembers war hero dad after rare photo is republished

  • U.S. Navy Pharmacist Mate 1st Class Arnold E. Fallon, attached to the 5th Marine Division, 5th Medical Battalion, Company B, applies bandages to the arm of a wounded Japanese prisoner in February 1945 on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. This photograph was originally published in The Record of Troy, N.Y., on March 10, 1945. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Orange resident Ann Reed and twin brother Arnold E. Fallon Jr., of Albany, N.Y., visit their parents’ gravesite in Troy, N.Y., three years ago. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/25/2020 10:23:05 PM

Longtime Orange resident Ann Reed says her father’s compassion and healing humor were legendary.

She remembers sick and injured people dragging themselves into Arnold E. Fallon’s pharmacy in Troy, N.Y., and recalls that “15 minutes later they were walking out laughing, shaking their heads, standing straighter — and they hadn’t even taken the medicine yet.” She has also heard stories about how he discreetly helped low-income customers by writing “P.P” on their prescription label. Those letters stood for “poor person,” and meant the cashier was not allowed to charge for the medication.

So, with a lifetime of memories like these, she has never been the least bit confused why he would show sympathy for a prisoner of war, even an enemy.

Fallon, a U.S. Navy pharmacist’s mate 1st Class during World War II, was photographed in February 1945 applying bandages to the arm of a wounded Japanese prisoner on Iwo Jima. The photo was published in Troy’s The Record on March 10 of that year. The headline reportedly read “TROY MARINE ON IWO JIMA WRITES OF HEAVY FIGHTING / Enemy Fire on Embattled Island Described as ‘Terrific.’”

“He was true to this country,” Reed said this week, “but that photograph did not surprise … any relatives back home, that he would not just let a human being suffer needlessly.”

The black-and-white photograph was republished in The Meridian Star, a newspaper in Meridian, Miss., and a few other publications to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, which resulted in 6,800 Americans killed and about 20,000 injured. The republished photograph was accompanied by a column written by the Star’s editor, Dave Bohrer, who is Reed’s cousin.

“When Dave … took the initiative, it just seemed meant to be. It’s a photo that really needed to remembered. I’ve never seen one like it in regard to World War II,” she said. “It’s always been relevant, and always will be relevant.”

Bohrer writes that less than three weeks after the battle began, Fallon wrote a letter home after spending “eight days and nights in a foxhole under fire.” Bohrer also writes that Fallon had a brother fighting in Belgium, another in the Philippines and a third stationed on an Army base in California, presumably so the four would not be in the same war zones.

Reed, who moved to Orange in 1987, said Troy-area artists were awestruck by the photograph when it was initially published and it inspired several paintings — two of which eventually wound up in the Fallon home. She said her father — attached to the 5th Marine Division, 5th Medical Battalion, Company B — enlisted because he knew he was needed.

“He always spoke with great respect for our country and for the service, but he never glorified the awful impact on humanity, on all sides,” she recalled. “The prisoner was seriously injured but officers wasted no time interrogating him, and my father slipped into the middle of it and just began attending to the man’s wounds. And that’s what he was there for. His original assignment was to teach pharmacy at Columbia (University). … Toward the end of the war, he was suddenly plucked from that academic service and dropped into hell.”

In his column, Bohrer recounted his uncle’s sense of humor, including when he would wiggle around on a whoopee cushion in his Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. Reed, too, remembers Fallon’s wit.

“I lost my father when I was 17, but I feel as if I’m had him for 64 years so far,” she said. “Not a week goes by where I don’t have to set my laundry basket down so I can sit and laugh about one of his quips.”

Fallon purchased the now-defunct Troy Drug Company in the late 1940s and presided over the business until his 1973 death at age 58. He managed Carroll’s Pharmacy earlier in his career. He married Ann Karichkowsky on Feb. 9, 1941, and they had six children. Fallon’s widow died in 2017.

Reach Domenic Poli at:
dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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