Edward Albert Pietrowski was born on 18 October 1920, in LaSalle, Illinois, to Joseph and Veronica Nowakowski Pietrowski. Joseph and Veronica had married the year before his birth on 4 November 1919, in LaSalle. While both of Edward’s parents were born in Illinois, his maternal grandparents came to America from Russia in the 1890s. His maternal grandfather John Nowakowski worked in the coal mines in the LaSalle-Peru area. Edward’s paternal grandparents also immigrated to America but in the 1870s/1880s from their country of birth which was Poland. His paternal grandfather Albert Pietrowski also worked in the zinc works, but passed away before Edward was born.
After Edward, his parents had at least five more sons: Leonard, Edmund, Chester, Robert, and Richard. Edward’s brother Robert, who was born on 23 May 1936, only lived 10 days before passing away. The family also lost Richard who died on 11 October 1938, only a day after his birth. That same year in 1938, the family also lost Edward’s maternal grandmother, Frances Kaminski Nowakowski.
Edward’s father—Joseph Pietrowski—was a shear man at the local zinc works. Edward himself most likely began working at an early age. By the time he was 21, he was employed by the Illinois Central Railroad. And as the nation readied for war, he joined other young men in registering for the draft. At the time of his registration on 16 February 1942, he was 21 years old and 5 feet 10 inches tall weighing 165 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. Edward’s brothers also filled out their draft cards that year: Leonard registered on 30 June 1942, and Edmund, who also worked for the Illinois Central Railroad, registered the day after Christmas.
Edward enlisted in the Army in the fall of 1942 on October 8th. He was eventually assigned to Company G in the 141st Infantry Regiment. By mid-December in 1943, his unit was part of an operation to capture Mount Lungo and San Pietro in Italy. The 141st was directed to “move from Mount Rotondo directly across the valley toward San Pietro.” This required the soldiers to cross through an area that left them exposed to enemy fire. “Fire from enemy positions on the terraces of San Pietro and near the base of Mount Lungo caused severe casualties to units struggling to get across what came to be named Death Valley.” It is likely during this drive across the valley that PFC Edward Pietrowski was killed in action on 15 December 1943, after being hit in the arm and back with shell fragments. A few days after his death the enemy withdrew, and the battle for San Pietro ended.
PFC Edward Pietrowski was temporarily buried in Italy. After the war his body was returned to his family, and he was buried in St. Hyacinth Cemetery in LaSalle. For his service he was awarded the World War II Victory medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal. Several months after Edward was buried in LaSalle, his mother died and was also buried in St. Hyacinth Cemetery.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
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- SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
You can also access this story at the following sites:
- Fold3, Edward Albert Pietrowski
- Together We Served, Edward Albert Pietrowski
- 1900 U.S. Census, John Nowakowski, Ancestry.
- 1900 U.S. Census, George Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, Joseph Petrowski, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Joseph Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” Robert Pietrowski, FamilySearch.
- “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” Richard Pietrowski, FamilySearch.
- “Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947,” Frances Nowakowski, Ancestry.
- “Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947,” Albert Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” Pietrowski to Nowakowski, FamilySearch.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Edward Albert Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Edmund Robert Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Leonard Richard Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, Edward A. Pietrowski, Ancestry.
- “Phase II The Battles for San Pietro,” U.S. Army.