Biography: Nicholas Waskul, "Nick", was born on September 16, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan. He was the son on William Waskul and Anne Illnitski and attended local schools through the 12th grade.
Service Time: Nick entered the service on July 17, 1943, at Detroit, Michigan. He was assigned to A Company of the 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion but at some point would be transferred to Reconnaissance Company. He was affectionately known as "Junior" by the older troops and trained with the unit, qualifying as a Sharpshooter with the Carbine and Thompson Sub-Machine Gun and as a Marksman with the M-1 Rifle. He shipped out with them from the New York port on August 11, 1944. They arrived at Liverpool, England, on the 23rd and a month later boarded transports and landed at Utah Beach on September 18th.
They fought in the Metz sector from September to November and attacked toward Saarlautern in November and December. Nick fractured his spine when he fell into a WWI bunker and spent some time recuperating, taking him out of action, for a period.
The unit battled the German Nordwind offensive in January, 1945, then shifted north in March for the offensive to the Rhine. The 807th defended the Rhine River bridges in April and converted to the M18 tank destroyer in time to join the drive through Bavaria late that same month. They reached the vicinity of Salzburg, Austria, in early May.
At some point, probably after hostilities had ceased, Nick was transferred to the Reconnaissance Company of the 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion, probably due to his later entry into the war. The Reconnaissance Company was placed on occupational duties in the vicinity of Eschershausen, Germany, early in June but moved to Hockenheim and then Hassmersheim, Germany, later in the month.
Nick would later share that he was beside one of his friends when enemy artillery fire began. His friend was hit in the belly by shrapnel and Nick attempted to help hold the man's insides from coming out. That was the last thing he remembered before he was knocked unconscious by the concussion of another explosion.
Nick shipped home at the end of July, arriving back in the U.S. on the 29th. He received credit for the campaigns of Rhineland and Central Europe and received the WWII Victory, the American Theater, EAME, Good Conduct and the Purple Heart medals. He left the service at the rank of Private First Class.
Now back in the U.S., Nick went back to Detroit and entered the Henry Ford Apprentice Program, becoming a clay modeler for the Ford Motor Company and later a supervisor in that same design group. On April 30, 1949, he married the former Rosalie James, who was born in Detroit, and was the daughter of Wilker James. The new couple had seven children, Patricia, Nicholas, Pamela, Richard, Karen, Joseph and Cheryl. His family was his main interest but he also enjoyed scuba diving, waterskiing, fishing, art, antiques, history, paleontology and astronomy. He was also a member of the VFW.
Nick also continued his education at Wayne State University, where he earned his Bachelors Degree. He retired from Ford in 1980, and he and Rose were able to travel throughout the U.S., including Hawaii and overseas to European countries, the Fiji Islands and Austrailia.
Nick passed away on April 20, 2017, and was buried in the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan. I want to thank Nick's daughter, Cheryl, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.
Both Nick, and his son Nicholas, also known as Nick, were active in the 807th Tank Destroyer Association.