Original U.S. WWII Operation Husky Silver Star Medal With Citation and (2) PFC Chevrons - PFC John Szczurek
Original Items: One-Of-A-Kind Grouping: This is a lovely Silver Star grouping attributed to a young man, who at only 20 years old, risked his life to ensure the safety and protection of his comrades around him. Private First Class John F. Szczurek was serving with the 2626th Coast Artillery Brigade AA when the ship he was on came under attack by enemy aircraft. Despite the damage, chaos and an abandon ship order, PFC Szczurek selflessly showed disregard for his own safety and life by taking over a gun and driving away the attacking enemy, earning himself the Silver Star Medal.
The U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) was an administrative corps responsible for coastal, harbor, and anti-aircraft defense of the United States and its possessions between 1901 and 1950. The CAC also operated heavy and railway artillery during World War I.
The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 and the Fall of France in June 1940 greatly accelerated US defense planning and funding. About this time a severe lack of design coordination resulted in the Iowa-class battleships being unable to use the Mark 2 and Mark 3 16-inch guns, and a new gun design was required for them. With war on the horizon, the Navy released the approximately 50 remaining guns, and on 27 July 1940 the Army's Harbor Defense Board recommended the construction of 27 (eventually 38) 16-inch two-gun batteries to protect strategic points along the US coastline, to be casemated against air attack. However, as the war's progress greatly reduced the threat from enemy surface vessels, only 21 of these were completed, and not all of them were armed.
The 16-inch guns were only the top end of the World War II program, which eventually replaced almost all previous coast defense weapons with newer (or remounted) weapons. Generally, each harbor defense command was to have two or three 16-inch or 12-inch long-range batteries, plus 6-inch guns on new mountings with protected magazines, and 90 mm Anti Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) guns. Activation of the National Guard and expansion of regular harbor defense regiments to wartime strength resulted in 45,000 troops assigned to this function by fall 1941. Including field artillery units deployed in coast defense, harbor defense forces peaked at 70,000 troops from spring 1942 until mid-1943. In 1943–44, with most of the new defenses completed, the numerous older weapons of the Endicott and Taft periods were scrapped, with their crews largely reassigned to field artillery units.
This Lovely Grouping Consists of:
- (2) PFC Chevrons
- (1) Silver Star Medal: The medal itself is a replacement medal and bears no numbers or engraving on the back or bottom edge.
- (1) Original Silver Star Citation: The citation itself is quite worn and has been folded for many years. There is some separation along the folds but the text is still very clear and able to be read properly.
The following is PFC Szczurek’s Citation:
R E S T R I C T E D
2626TH COAST ARTILLERY BRIGADE AA
16 October 1943
AWARD OF SILVER STAR
Under the provisions of Army Regulations 600-45, as amended, a Silver Star is awarded to the following individual:
JOHN F. SZCZUREK, 36310597, Private First Class **** AA MG Btry (Sep)
(AB), for gallantry in action on the *** of July, 1943, east of ****, SICILY,
After his ship, ******, had been bombed and set on fire, Pfc SZCZUREK took over a gun and opened fire on the enemy aircraft which were continuing to bomb and strafe his ship. Disregarding the order to “Abandon Ship” and while undergoing the hazards of fire and exploding ammunition on his ship as well as enemy bombs and gunfire, he continued to fire until the last enemy plane left the area. By his unselfish action he undoubtedly aided in driving off the enemy aircraft thereby reducing the casualties to personnel, both on the ship and in the water. Entered the military service from CHICAGO, ILL.
By command of Brigadier General HENDRIX:
KENNETH E. HARTE
The reason for the “***” would be due to the censorship process from the continuing operations in Sicily. Pfc Szczurek was awarded his medal for actions conducted during the allied invasion of Sicily, Operation Husky, which began in early July 1943. The ship in reference to the citation was more than likely one of the various Mk 1 Landing Ship Tanks that were bombed and attacked during the initial invasion.
This is a lovely grouping that comes ready for display and further research!
Allied invasion of Sicily
Operation Husky was a major campaign of World War II in which the Allies invaded the island of Sicily and took it from the Axis powers (Fascist Italy and NSDAP Germany). It began with a large amphibious and airborne operation, followed by a six-week land campaign, and initiated the Italian Campaign.
To divert some of the Axis forces to other areas, the Allies engaged in several deception operations, the most famous and successful of which was Operation Mincemeat. Husky began on the night of 9–10 July 1943, and ended on 17 August. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners; the Allies drove Axis air, land and naval forces from the island and the Mediterranean sea lanes were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941. The Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, was toppled from power in Italy and the way was opened for the Allied invasion of Italy. The German leader, Adolf H, "canceled a major offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy," resulting in a reduction of German strength on the Eastern Front. The collapse of Italy necessitated German troops replacing the Italians in Italy and to a lesser extent the Balkans, resulting in one fifth of the entire German army being diverted from the east to southern Europe, a proportion that would remain until near the end of the war.
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