Seymour “Sy” Ellenhorn of Chestertown, MD passed away on December 27, 2020 at Heron Point of Chestertown. He was 96.
Ellenhorn was born on April 24, 1924 in Brooklyn, NY the son of the late Carl and Ida Semelmacher Ellenhorn.
Ellenhorn was a veteran of the United States Air Force. He graduated the Manhattan High School of Aviation Trades in 1943. His military education included Airplane Armorer in Buckley Field and Lowery Field, CO, as well as Arterial Gunnery in Laredo, TX.
He went on to serve as a gunner for the 464th Bombardment Group, U.S. Army Air Corps in Italy from 1943-1945. He received two Air Force Technical School diplomas: one in Aircraft Armorer (Bombardment) on August 31, 1943 and another in Aircraft Cannon on September 4, 1943. He completed training at the 213th Combat Crew Training Station, in Mountain Home Airfield, Mountain Home, Idaho in 1944.
Ellenhorn received the Purple Heart Award on the 30th of December 1944. He made his mid-winter plunge in the sea when the 15th AAF Liberator ran out of gas returning from a mission deep in enemy territory.
In an interview prior to his death that appeared in his obituary, Ellhorn reflected on experience that day.
“Weather has held up the formation, and finally we had to bomb a secondary target,” said Ellenhorn “but for some reason or another we were burning gas at a rapid rate. We were half-way across the Adriatic heading home when the engine started to miss.” With the Italian coast 30 miles away and the gauges dropping to empty, a convoy was sighted. The Liberator dropped from the formation and started heading for a water landing. “The pilot put it up to us,” said Ellenhorn, parachute or ride the plane down. There wasn’t anything that the gunners could do except pray and a B-24 doesn’t even look like a duck, so we bailed.” Just before he hit the water, Ellenhorn slipped out of his harness and inflated his Mae West. “I bounced around in the drink for about 25 minutes,” continued Ellenhorn “before a British Escort vessel nosed in to pick us up and by that time I was colder than a Flatbush Avenue loan shark’s heart. I was shaking more than a couple of jitterbugs at Roseland.”
After his service, he worked as a gunsmith in Manhattan for over 40 years before retiring in 1987. Ellenhorn was the “go-to” for weapons used in theatrical and film productions in the New York area.
He moved to Chestertown, MD in 1990 and settled at 113 High Street. Sy would become a local fixture.
Bob Ramsey was a friend of Ellenhorn’s and shared many interests.
“We loved to sit down and talk ‘trash’,” Ramsey recalled with a chuckle. “He was a great conversationalist.”
Ramsey recalled Ellenhorn’s serious side.
“He was proud to be a Jew and he was proud of his service in World War II.”
Ramsey, a local arts figure and owner of The Finishing Touch on High Street, remembered when Ellenhorn studied and became a gemologist.
“After he gave up the gun business, he took up gemology.”
“He created some wonderful pieces,” Ramsey continued. “He sold some in local shops and made others for friends . . . he enjoyed the challenge.”
Ellenhorn also took up collecting snuffboxes.
“He became interested, really fascinated with snuffboxes,” Ramsey recalled. “He started going to Dixon’s Auction in Crumpton because of its jewelry selection. He bought a few snuffboxes. Soon he was traveling to snuffbox sales.”
“He had a couple of nice pieces.”
Ellenhorn is survived by two sons, Eric Ellenhorn and Cory (Beverly) Ellenhorn, as well as three grandchildren, Amy, Zachary and Zoe Ellenhorn.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Ellenhorn’s name to the Wounded Warriors Project. https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org
A graveside service will be held in Shrewsbury Cemetery in Kennedyville, MD on Sunday, January 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm.
This Remembrance includes reporting and editing by the Kent Pilot and original obituary content.