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Seliga, Leonard S. (654th)


Leonard S. Seliga

Biography: Leonard Stanley Seliga was born on April 29, 1916, in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He was the son of Stanley Seliga and Anna Grucia and attended local schools through the grammar level. He later worked as a punch press operator.

Service Time:  Leonard entered the service on June 20, 1940, at Chicago, IL. After his basic training he was assigned to an Infantry unit and qualified as an Expert with the bayonet in February 1941, and a Marksman with the rifle on May 29, 1941.

On June 8, 1942, while on leave, Leonard married the former Dorothy Josephine Boles at North Augusta, South Carolina. Dorothy had been born in Bonfield, IL, and was the daughter of Richard “Dick” Boles and Minnie Ashline. We are not sure of the circumstances of his transfer but Leonard was ultimately assigned to Company C of the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion and continued his training at various military facilities within the United States reaching the rank of Sergeant and serving as a gun commander on an M10 tank destroyer. The 654th shipped from the New York port on October 7, 1943, arriving at Liverpool, England on the 18th. They continued their training for the next 9 months before boarding LST’s (Landing Ship Tank) at Weymouth in Dorset, England, and landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on July 11th, 1944. They were first committed to battle in July 1944, near Fallot, France, before fighting at Mortain in August.  They moved east toward Nancy, seeing action as they pushed toward the border and the Saar River. On September 18th, as an attacking force was nearing Agincourt, France, they came under enemy mortar and artillery fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unit’s official Daily Reports for September 30, 1944, identifies:

The CP (Command Post) of Company “C” remained at Bioncourt maintained AT (Anti-tank) positions with the 1st platoon at 048263, 2d at 045253. At 1500 hours the town of Bioncourt was subjected to a terrific enemy artillery barrage along with some small arms fire. At 1630 hours the CP left Bioncourt and set up 1 1/2 mile NW of Brin-sur-Seille, a distance of 7 miles. The 3rd platoon moved from coord 009243 to AT positions in vicinity of the CP at 1800 hours. The 2d reconnaissance platoon captured 1 prisoner at coord 013256. The entire company was under heavy artillery, mortar and small arms fire throughout the period. Sergeant Seliga was wounded at 1400 hours by artillery fire at coord 992226. Company C remained in support of the 137th and 320th Infantry during the period.

Sergent Seliga was evacuated to a field hospital where they were able to save his leg even though it had been severely damaged.  He did however spend many months in hospitals recuperating. We do not believe Leonard was able to rejoin his unit but was given credit for the Normandy Campaign and received the Purple Heart in recognition of his injuries, He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal while still at the 107th General Hospital and also the Americn Defense Ribbon and the EAME Ribbon. He shipped home on January 27, 1945, arriving back in the U.S. on February 9th. He was discharged on June 10th at the Fort Sheridan, IL , separation center.

Honorable Discharge

Now back in civilian life, Leonard would return to Illinois and find work in the Kankakee Roper plant which once had 3000 employees building gas and electric stoves. At home, Leonard was busy growing his family, which would ultimately reach nine children, six boys and three girls, Leonard Jr. (Butch), Linda, Richard (Dick), Marsha, Randy, Steve, Mary, Mark and Tom. In his spare time, Leonard Sr. enjoyed fishing, polka music, hiking through parks, and watching hunting, NASCAR and NHRA drag racing on TV. In his later years, sharing storys with his grand children was a special pleasure. Leonard was also registered with The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.

Leonard passed away on April 26, 1992, and his ashes were scattered by the family that same year. His memorial headstone is located at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL. I want to thank Leonard’s son Steve for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.