John F. Prusaczyk
Biography: John F. Prusaczyk was born on March 6, 1920, in Bridgeport, Conneticut. He was the son of John and Rose Prusaczyk and attended St. Mary’s Grammar School and St. Peter’s High School. While in high school, John excelled at basketball and was a member of their championship team which competed in the Glen Falls Invitational Tournament. He was also a member of the St. Mary’s A.A. teams which won championships in 1940 and 1941. After he graduated from high school, he went to work in a shoe factory but was employed by the Wiley, Bickford, Sweet Co. when he entered the service. John married the former Viola M. Stypolkowski and together they had one daughter, Frances.
Service Time: John was inducted into the service on Feb. 10, 1942, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. After boot camp, he was assigned to Company B of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion and later became a commander of an M18 Tank Destroyer named “Blondie”. During actions on Feb. 9, 1945, in the Bannholz Woods, which is in the Sinz-Nennig area of Germany, his destroyer was hit by two German Panther tanks and John was killed. His best friend, and driver of the destroyer, Harry Traynor was wounded, but survived and was captured. John was buried in the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg (Plot H, Row 3, Grave 61). He reached the rank of Sergeant during his time with the 704th. He was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service on July 7, 1944 and the Silver Star for gallantry in action on Feb. 8, 1945.
In memory of John, the city of Worchester, MA, held a ceremony, sponsored by the Polish American veterans of WWII, in which a square was named after him. The square is located at Ward and Worth Streets in Worchester and photos of the sign and memorial can be seen at the end of this article. The Mayor, a U.S. Representative, a State Representative and Senator as well as other city officials attended the ceremony.
In 1995, a Luxembourger found John’s engraved canteen cup and sent it to Harry Taynor. Harry kept it until he passed away. You can see a photo of John’s grave marker, along with the cup, at the end of this article.
I want to thank Erwin Verholen and John’s daughter, Frances, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.