Sajda, Stephen R. (813th)

Stephen R. Sajda 1Stephen R. Sajda

Biography: Stephen Richard Sajda was born on December 21, 1914, in Camden, New Jersey. He was the son of Paul V. Sajda and Olga Urbanick, both of whom emigrated from Hungary in 1902. His enlistment record indicates he completed grammar school and was working as a shipper for a dress manufacturer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, prior to his military service.

Service Time: Stephen entered the Army at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, on April 17, 1942. He was eventually assigned to the 1st Platoon of Company C, 813th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 813th was activated on December 15, 1941, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and completed all of their training at that location.

They shipped to North Africa, arriving there at the beginning of 1943, where they participated in the Tunisia Campaign, and worked with British and French forces as well as the U.S. 34th Infantry Division. Part of the battalion went to Sicily, Italy, with the 3rd I.D. and the 13th Field Artillery Brigade.

Stephen R. Sajda 2

In the summer of 1943, a portion of the battalion participated in the invasion of Italy. In November of that same year, they set sail for England and began training for the invasion of France. The unit landed in Normandy at Utah Beach on June 27, 1944, where they were attached to the 79th Infantry Division. Joining the drive to Le Mans and then moving north to Alencon at the Falaise Gap, they were the first armored unit to cross the Seine River. They entered Belgium on September 2nd, later fighting around the Foret de Parroy, in October, and supported the advance toward Strasbourg, France, in November. The 813th continued to support the infantry regiments of the 79th during December and into the new year.

The photo at left shows Stephen and his mother in July, 1942.  It’s likely he was home on leave.

On January 4, 1945, the 1st Platoon of Company C was attached to Company B. On Jan the 7th, the M10 tank destroyer commanded by Sgt. Robert C. Dau, of which Stephen was a crew member, was located approximately 3/4 of a mile NE of Hoffen, France.  At 0925 hours, they fired 9 rounds of APC (Armor Piercing Capped) at enemy tanks before being knocked out by return fire.  Pfc. Sajda was killed by the initial hit and Sgt. Dau and Cpl. Hatfield were both wounded. He was awarded the EAME medal, with credit for the campaign’s of Tunisia, Rome-Arno, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace, along with the WWII Victory medal.  Stephen was postumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. 

Private First Class Stephen R. Sajda is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial, Epinal, Departement des Vosges, Lorraine, France. We would like to thank his grand-nephew, Stephen R. Meier, who is proudly named after his great-uncle, for the personal photos and Find-A-Grave member Andy for the memorial marker photo used in this tribute.

Stephen R. Sajda 3