Sunday, May 30, 2021

Uncle Stash’s Silver Star

“Every man has two deaths, when he is buried in the ground and the last time someone says his name.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Stash is short for Stashu and Stashu means Stanley in Polish. He was married to my grandmother’s sister Ruthie who passed away in February 2020. Stash passed away in 1963 when I was six. I don't remember much about him but there were always stories about Stash in World War II. Rumors he was a member of a special forces group that captured a high level Nazi general. 

Stash worked in a factory in Springfield, MA before and then after the war. From what my parents have told me he was the kind of person that went to work, came home and went back to work again the next day. Never talked about the war but does have a Silver Star on his gravestone. 

After Aunt Ruthie passed away I did a little poking around on the web and came across Stash’s Silver Star Citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant Stanley J. Schab (ASN: 313466007), United States Army, for gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force while serving with Company M, 143d Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action against the enemy on 3 December 1944 in France. Sergeant Schab and his men were manning a machine gun in a house on the edge of a town when a large group of the enemy infiltrated around the building and cut their communication lines. Although hostile fire was coming through every window of the house, Sergeant Schab moved from man to man, firing his sub-machine gun from each position to encourage them. When a burst of automatic weapons fire knocked his gun from his hands, he picked the weapon up and continued to fire. One group of the enemy succeeded in reaching the yard, but Sergeant Schab killed two Germans and wounded another within five feet of the rear door. His vigorous and determined defense forced the enemy to withdraw. Later in the day, as he moved his outpost forward, he surprised and captured five Germans who were attempting to return to their own lines. When two other Germans tried to rescue their comrades, he killed one and wounded the second. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

December 3, 1944.... today it's just another day a long time ago - an obscure link on the web and a gravestone marker in a small cemetery in Western Massachusetts. 

So many veterans like Stash - a regular guy that went off, did some heroic stuff, and was fortunate enough to come back home to his regular life.... so we can have our regular lives. Many did not get to come back and many came back very different people. The world sure would be a very different place without our current service members and veterans stepping up. Hemingway finishes: 

"Stories, too die when the last person who knows the story dies. So the trick is not only to know the story, but to make people remember the story, so it will live on.”

We can't forget.