John E. Tobiczyk
Biography: John Edward Tobiczyk, “Eddie”, was born on February 8, 1923, in New York state. He was the son of Joseph Tobiczyk and Rose Mieszczek and attended local schools through the 9th grade.
Service Time: Eddie entered the service on December 16, 1941, at Utica, New York. On March 7, 1942, he was assigned to the Reconnaisance Company of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion.
The unit shipped out from the New York port on August 2, 1942, aboard the Queen Mary. They arrived at Gourock, Scotland, on the 7th.
The Reconnaissance Company landed at Oran, Algeria, on November 8th as part of Operation Torch, and the rest of battalion arrived in December. They fought in the Battle of Kasserine Pass in February, 1943, and at El Guettar, Tunisia, in March. The unit converted to the M10 tank destroyer at the end of the North Africa campaign and then participated in the invasion landings at Salerno, Italy, on September 9th.
The 601st made their next assault at Anzio on January 22, 1944, and entered Rome in June. They then conducted their fourth assault landing in southern France on August 15th and advanced to the German border in the Vosges region.
The unit history identifies that “on September 1, 1944, the entire battalion moved 93 miles, to the vicinity of Voiran. The Third Division was hell bent for the Belfort Gap. After several more scraps, the 601st really went top town in the fortress city of Besancon.” It was on the 7th, in the vicinity of Franois, France, that Eddie’s platoon commander, 1st Lt. William V. Desforge, was seriously wounded. Eddie realized they needed a vehicle to evacuate him and, under enemy fire, he obtained a jeep from a local town. He and another soldier were able to get the commander to safety and the medical attention he needed, saving his life. For these actions, Pvt. John E. Tobiczyk, would receive the Bronze Star with Valor device.
The picture above right shows Eddie standing at the Danube River.
The unit went on to participate in the reduction of the Colmar Pocket, in February, 1945, and then converted to the M36 tank destroyer. Battling along the Siegfried Line until crossing the Rhine River on March 22nd, they helped capture Nürnberg in April and ended the war occupying Hitler’s retreat at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.
In addition to the Bronze Star, Eddie also received credit for at least three of the unit’s campaigns. It is believed that Eddie may have joined the unit as a replacement while they were in Italy. He was also authorized to wear the Distinguished Unit Citation Ribbon as well as the French Fourragère for their actions with the 3rd Infantry Division. Eddie returned home to the New York port, aboard the USAT David C. Shanks, arriving on October 7, 1945. He left the service at the rank of Staff Sergeant. The photo above shows Eddie standing (center back) with the rest of his destroyer crew.
Less than a month later on November 3rd, he married the former Mary Margaret “Peggy” Piper, at Hartford, NY. She was the daughter of Kenneth Piper and Clara Jozwiak. The couple had three children, Carol, Melvin and John.
Eddie was killed in a mining accident, on October 3, 1968, at the Saginaw Mine, near St. Clairsville, Belmont County, Ohio. He was buried in the Saint Stanislaus and Saint Casimir Societies Cemetery in Whitesboro, New York. We would like to thank Eddie’s daughter, Carol, for providing information used in this tribute. We also want to thank Find A Grave contributor, F. Robert Falbo, for providing the grave marker photo.