More than 50 years later, they were posthumously honored at a Memorial Day ceremony in their hometown.
Memorial Day is usually celebrated in Union City with a festive parade including the city's veterans, elementary and high schools, and public officials. But this May 30, Union City residents instead gathered inside Roosevelt Stadium on 26th Street and Kerrigan Avenue to remember those who perished in foreign wars and those who died during the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Magee Family was honored for the service that their two boys gave to this country.
Remembering the Magee family
Billy and Kenny Magee were both athletes at Emerson High School before they served in the war.
The city gave a proclamation to the Magee family for their service to the country at the ceremony. A Magee cousin, Harold Sanders, attended the ceremony. So did James Manno, the former best friend of the Magee brothers, who accepted the proclamation on their behalf. The Manno family grew up on 18th Street in Union City.
"I am pleased and proud to join in paying tribute to these two heroes, who were among my best friends 60 years ago," said Manno after receiving the proclamation.
Manno described Billy as being shy. He was called to active duty for the United States Army in 1940.
Billy was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and as a Paratrooper in 1943 and was the first paratrooper to land on Corregidor in 1945, earning a Silver Star and a promotion to First Lieutenant. He was killed on Mindoro Island in 1945.
Kenny, who Manno said had a devilish streak in him, enlisted in the U.S. Marines and was killed in the invasion of the Pelelieu Islands in September, 1944.
Manno described both men as "tall, handsome, red-headed Irishmen."
"He made a dashing figure in the blue and red marine dress uniform," Manno said of Kenny, "and was probably very popular with the ladies."
Both of the Magee boys were members of the track and field team at Emerson High School, and Kenny also played football.
Billy won the state title for the half-mile race in the late 1930s.
After their deaths, the Magee family donated and dedicated an altar to their sons' memory at St. Michael's Monastery in Union City.