11 January 2016

Military Monday: Nicholas Hruszczak served in WWII

Nicholas Hruszczak (my grandfather’s brother) was just 20 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The next year, in August 1942, he enlisted in the US Army.

His Veteran Compensation Application shows he served domestically from enlistment to 30 December 1942 and then again from 2 November 1945 until he was honorably discharged on 9 November 1945 at Fort Indiantown Gap.

Photo from the Coatesville Record
28 August 1944
In between – specifically, 31 December 1942 to 1 November 1945 – he served in foreign service. On 20 July 1943, according to the National Archives World War II Diaries, he came aboard the USS Rigel. He boarded, along with many other men, at Pontoon Landing, Laulan Island, Milne Bay, New Guinea. At that time his rank was PFC.

These “war diaries” are daily operational journals created by naval command throughout the Navy during the Second World War. They were decommissioned on 31 December 2012. The original source is the National Archives.

The operational journal shows the daily positions of the USS Rigel, any problems she had along the way, anchoring locations and some insight to daily routine. Since Uncle Nick checked Army on his Compensation paperwork, and knowing that the USS Rigel was used as a transport ship, I assume (because I cannot find definite documentation confirming) that his unit was transported upon the USS Rigel to the South Pacific.

A photo from the Coatesville Record (sadly, now defunct) shows that Uncle Nick was a Corporal in the South Pacific in August 1944. According to his obituary, Uncle Nick “served in the South Pacific in the Philippine Liberation with one Bronze Star.”

A Bronze Star is awarded for heroic or meritorious achievement of service. So what did he do? I have checked many sites, government and genealogy sites alike, to no avail. The only documented items I can find are his photo from the local paper and his boarding the UUS Rigel. I do not have any record of what he did in the South Pacific or even what his unit is. I do have his serial number and will continue my military search on his experiences.

Coatesville Record. 28 August 1944.

“Nicholas Ruczhac of Coatesville” Daily Local News, 5 March 2008

Pennsylvania, Veteran Compensation Application Files, WWII, 1950-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, compiled ca. 1/1/1942 – ca. 6/1/1946, documenting the period ca. 9/1/1939 – ca. 5/30/1946. [database online] Fold2. com, 2010.

Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.