William P. Krzysztofiak (Kristie)
Biography: William Peter Krzysztofiak, “Bill”, was born on September 23, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Andrew Krzysztofiak and Anna Fanuc and attended St. Blasé Catholic School and then Argo Community High School. After graduation, he worked in auto repair for the Ford Motor Company. His military documents identify that he also operated a radial drill press prior to the war.
Service Time: Bill entered the service on October 7, 1942, in Chicago. During his initial training, he qualified as a Sharpshooter with the Carbine and as an Expert with the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun. He also won a driving award in his specialty, which was Full-Track Tank Driver.
Bill was assigned to Company B of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them in the U.S. The 893rd was the first unit to arrive at the newly established TDC (Tank Destroyer Center). It would be their soldiers that were utilized as Tank Destroyer School Troops and they would contribute hundreds of men to the various units that passed through the TDC.
The 893rd moved to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in early 1943, and participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers. While stationed there on August 3rd, Bill was promoted to Technician 5th Grade. They received orders in December to proceed to the New York port and prepare for shipment overseas. They departed from the New York port on January 9, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on January 20.
After months of additional training and preparations, they boarded transports and landed at the Omaha beachhead, Normandy, France, on July 1st, equipped with M10s. They were committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye and advanced to Paris by August 25th and then to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel along the Belgian-German border.
Fighting in the Hürtgen Forest in November, they supporting the 28th Infantry Division’s disastrous assault on Schmidt, Germany, and remained there when the division was replaced. Holding defensive positions in January, 1945, they supported the 78th Infantry Division’s capture of the Roer River dams in February, 1945, and then participated in the offensive across the Roer River toward the Rhine River.
The photo above left shows Bill early in his training, probably during basic since he is shown with infantry-type rifles. The photo above right shows Bill on his M10, nicknamed “Blue Beard”.
The 893rd crossed the Rhine River at Remagen on March 7th and supported the attack northward to the Sieg River and subsequent operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April. Bill was awarded the EAME Medal and Good Conduct Medal and received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns including Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
At the end of the war, as soldiers were being sent home, Bill was assigned to Troop C of the 87th Cavalry Squadron as part of the occupational troops that stayed in Germany to help keep order. He returned to the U.S. on October 8, 1945, and was discharged on the 19th at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. He held the rank of Technician 4th Grade.
Now back in the U.S., he found work as an assistant foreman for the Bedford Park Public Works and later at Polyester Plastics Company as a Foremen. He had changed his last name, now going by “William P. Kristie” and started a liquor business, Kristie’s Liquors, which he owned and operated. On October 29, 1946, Bill married the former Alice Barbara Wojciechowicz who was born in Argo, IL, and was the daughter of Peter Wojciechowicz and Josephine Matoszka. The new couple had one son, Joseph, born in 1957.
In his spare time, Bill enjoyed fishing and coin collecting. He was also a member of the American Legion and VFW. Bill passed away on May 5, 2004, and was buried in the Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Justice, IL.
I want to thank Bill’s son, Joe, for providing the information and photos in this tribute. I also want to thank him for the large amount of training documentation he provided as well as photos relating to the 893rd. Joe was also kind enough to send me a 1943 steel penny from his father’s collection.