World War II Veteran: John A. Kostrisak, Collinsville, CT.
Active Service: April/1943 to November/1945
Overseas Service: October/1943 to November/ 1945
- Campaigns: Naples, Foggia; Rome, Arno;
Southern France; Rhineland; Central Europe
Branch: US Army
Assignment: Company E, 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division
Tell me a Story.
There are three stories of incredible bravery to be told here. And they all happened over the course of one day, February 18, 1944.
It was 8 a.m. when Private First Class John A. Kostrisak and the rest of Company E, found themselves exposed and pinned down by intense machine gun fire, near Padiglione, Italy. Gathering his rifle and grenade launcher, Kostrisak sprinted 125 yards towards the enemy’s protected machine gun nest. He got into position on one knee and quickly fired off three grenades, wounding the two enemy soldiers in the nest, who subsequently surrendered.
Advancing on their position once again, Company E marched right into another conflagration, which stopped them in their tracks. This time, the assault came from several dozen enemy soldiers using heavy machine gun fire and rifles. While casualties mounted around him, Kostrisak moved into a kneeling position and fired rifle grenades into the well protected enemy position. He took out the machine gun, killed four soldiers and caused the surrender of two dozen others.
It was noontime. Company E was now headed towards a wooded area when it was hit with a barrage of artillery fire from a Mark IV Tank, firing from its 77 millimeter gun and machine guns. Company E’s Commander was killed. As many of his fellow soldiers lay dying and wounded, Kostrisak charged 300 yards toward the Tank. He fired on the armored vehicle, hitting it twice, forcing its crew to abandon the crippled Tank in the nearby woods.
Over the course of the day, Kostrisak had wounded at least two and killed four enemy soldiers. His bravery led to the surrender of 30 others. Company E had 93 casualties that day, but survived to fight in other battles during the war.
Here’s the Deal:
For his service in World War II, John Kostrisak received the following commendations: Distinguished Service Cross; Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster; Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; European Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars; WWII Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
The experiences shared in Vet Stories are generously provided by Bill Newman, Past Post Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Avon Post 3272.