MAKING HISTORY PERSONAL:

PFC Stephen Brycsak
The grave of PFC Stephen Brycsak was adopted by Trudy Beckers. Trudy started researching PFC Brycsak’s family with the help of the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) file she received. She contacted anyone who was mentioned in the Soldier’s records and was amazed how much cooperation she received. Based on the records that were discovered, PFC Brycsak died in Ittenback, Germany, close to Koningswinter. Trudy was able to find records that showed how the local civilians experienced the allies in a respectful and friendly way.

MAKING HISTORY PERSONAL:

PFC STEPHEN BRYCSAK

NAME: Stephen Brycsak
SERVICE # 36374559
STATE: Illinois
SERVICE: Army
RANK: Private First Class
REGIMENT: 745th Tank Battalion
WAR: World War II

AWARDS
★ Silver Star
★ Purple Heart
★ American Campaign Medal
★ World War II Victory Medal

CASUALTY DATE: 24 March 1945

BURIAL: Plot B Row 16 Grave 11, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands

His story

This is PFC Stephen Brycsak’s story:

Stephen was born on 29 July 1910. His parents had immigrated to the States from Czechoslovakia. He lived with his brothers William and John in Chicago, IL after his father and younger brother Michael passed away in 1927. According to the 1930 United States Federal Census, the then 20-year old Stephen was a laborer with no schooling, but was able to read and write. He enlisted in the US Army. His younger brother William joined the Navy.

Records show that Stephen voluntarily took the place of married soldiers which were send to the frontlines in WWII, because he was a single Soldier without any children – see article The Decoy Doughboy below. “I’m not married, have no parents and no dependents,” he had said in arguing for his transfer. “I think I can afford it easier than a lot of those dads out there”. PFC Brycsak not only volunteered for the most dangerous front-line assignments, but ensured the safety of his commerades. During one battle, he left his disabled tank and despite of being ordered to a safe rear ralley point, he used a submaschine gun to enable his remaining living and fallen commerades to be evacuated. This Soldier is a prime example of the Soldier’s Creed. The research indicated that Stephen was probably stationed in an already liberated area in the Ardennes or South Limburg. His unit went to the Koningswinter area, where he died on 24-3-1945. His tank exploded during a battle that opened the path for the Armored Division Spearheads. PFC Brycsak was awarded a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

 

Trudy started searching for any living relatives. Her research found some information on one brother who passed away. She was unable to gather details about the fate of another brother. She had given up hope of finding more information until suddenly there came news out of the States. Via numerous complicated ways, they were able to trace a nephew of Stephen. Due to circumstances the family fell apart and this nephew didn’t even know he had an uncle. Trudy was able to reach Stephen’s nephew who now knows that his uncle’s grave in Margraten is well taken of.

U.S. Soldier’s Creed

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States,
and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough,
trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and battle drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy,
the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

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