Sunday, February 24, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2365, February 24th, 2013

John Gosciewski during WWII. (Photo: Gosciewski family). 
The medal recipient John Gosciewski talking with the local media on his belated tribute. (Photo: Karel Zubris).
Some of the people in attendance at the Medal Ceremony held Wednesday at the Kingston Armory. From lefty, Congressman Tom Marino, daughters Karel Gosciewski Zubris, Paul Gosciewski Tracy, John Gosciewski, Grandson Jason Zubris, daughter Susan Gosciewski Nerbercki and son in law John Zubris. (Photo: Karel Zubris) 


Many times I have written on this site about my late uncles who served in the military during WWII. During their lifetime, at least with my interactions with them, they never spoke about what they did in the war. They only said they served. It wasn’t until after they died and at their wakes, that their medals and heroics were displayed. It is the hallmark of what Tom Brokaw dubbed “The Greatest Generation" that their actions spoke louder than their words. Raised during the Great Depression, these people who got into World War II were used to two things, adversity and sacrifice. Most likely for every service person recognized, there were others who were not.  So it was a good thing this week that one of our local residents was honored, Albeit seven  decades later for an incredible exploit he never got credit for. 
As World War II was winding down, enlisted man John Gosciewski was in the Po Valley of Italy. Along with his fellow troop members, Gosciewski carried his training from the military along with a skill that was common place for people growing up in his era. He knew the language of his parents, Polish. That came in very handy when his unit happened upon forty German soldiers housed in a barn. No one was sure any of them had weapons but Gosciewski did what came naturally to him as a Wilkes Barre Area Funeral Director years later in civilian life. He put one of the Germans at ease by engaging in conversation. Asking questions, getting the lay of the land and using his ability to ascertain that he could communicate in Polish with one of the German soldiers. In no time the German contingent was lined outside the barn thinking “God knows what” but Gosciewski marched them back to headquarters where a second Lieutenant. Promptly took over as well as taking the credit. 
Congressman Tom Marino’s office took a look into the case after it was ignored by the offices of certain local state government officials. After a five month inquiry, it was decided to give Mr. Gosciewski his due along with a few medals of recognition. While happy with the honor, Gosciewski called himself a “buck private” who was just trying to do his bit. 
On “Topic A” Friday night, L.A. Tarone and I talked about this story and concluded that there are more “buck privates” that do the hard work in the real world never getting the credit or the recognition. We both gave Mr. Gosciewski a shout out for making all the “buck privates” of the world look good. 
Like so many men of his generation few knew of this exploit. The only thing I knew about Mr. Gosciewski was that when he was in high school, he played the lead in a school play about Abraham Lincoln. A family member told me he said he got the role because he was the tallest boy in the class. Maybe. But perhaps Gosciewski might have channeled parts of that school boy performance by using guile, folksy dialogue, his language skills as well as compassion in the situation he was confronted with on that day in Italy. It was an untold story that we are glad to now retell on LuLac. 


At 7:51 AM, Anonymous JUNCTION said...

Dave, this is a great tribute to a well deserving "Old Soldier". He is one of the many forgotten heroes of that time.

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story got passed me till I read LuLac. I wish you had access to and listed the medlas he received, that would have been nice. It wold msake good lunch conversation but you've been among the missing.

PS it is very hard for us old guys to read these coded pass words

At 7:35 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

This story got passed me till I read LuLac. I wish you had access to and listed the medlas he received,


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