Era - Cold War, Vietnam
Unit - Battery B, 2nd battalion; 7th artillery hawk Missile.
Frederick Szary, U.S. Army
MIM-23 Hawk missile - This missile was designed primarly to take down aircraft or other missiles while in flight. Designed to intercept enemy attacking missiles within seconds after enemy missile launch. Costing $250,000 per unit, more than 40,000 units were purchased by the U.S. government. Not one unit was ever used in a combat situation according to military records
Medals, awards - Good conduct, European Theatre, Certificate of Appreciation, M-16 expert medal, .45-caliber pistol sharpshooter
Married - Sept. 12, 1970, to Joann (Sciairino) at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church.
Children - Ryan and Justin
Fredrick Szary was born Dec. 14, 1946, at Dunkirk's Brooks Memorial Hospital. His parents Matthew and Florence (Kozlowski) made the homestead in Dunkirk's Fourth Ward at 441 Nevins St. Fred's father worked in Dunkirk's steel plant as a mechanic and at times worked the various mills at the plant.
Fred was very proud of his father, who served proudly in World War II as part of a flight crew in the Army's Air Corps Fred's mother was a homemaker who stayed home and kept the house and raised a family.
Along with Fred, the Szary family raised another son, William, who Fred grew up with and did the things brothers of that time enjoyed. Being brought up right meant the two brothers were barely seen or involved in trouble.
School started out at School 6 located on Benton Street. It was a nice small well-kept school with a large playground that provided many things for the school's younger students. Fred enjoyed School 6 until his sixth grade when Fred then attended St. Hedwig's Catholic Elementary School, which was only two blocks away.
Growing up in any of Dunkirk's wards meant hanging with friends your age who all loved doing the same things. For Fred, this was no exception. If one were looking for Fred, all one needed to do was look for one of his many close friends, John Panel, Dick Piglowski, Dan Koczwara. As for most, the meeting place usually ended up being School 6.
From there the group decided its next move might include a touch football game that usually ended up in some minor shoving or fights. And for some, the newly formed midget league football league was in season. Other times brought walks to the creek or walking the railroad tracks.
In summer, if all agreed, they would meet early to be chosen to play nine innings of baseball at the school's baseball diamond. Getting there early was required if one wanted to play, usually the two best players or the ones who had the ball or bat would decided the teams by one throwing the bat to the other then catching the bat in a special spot. The two then started working their way to the neck of the bat using a group of fingers or hand configurations to stop the other from being the last one with the option to put a final cap around the top of the bat's crown and be given the right to choose the first.
Once the first selection was made the next captain picked and the selections came by picking who was best by order.
When the group got older, they enjoyed hunting and fishing. Dunkirk's Fourth Ward had its share of small game hunters who loved filling the local fields on the opening days of rabbit and squirrel season
As the youth days were counting down for Fred, he would recall the days when he enjoyed flying his model airplane, hoping the engine would never seize up and crash. Getting the airplane to take off from a stopped position to climb to 300 to 400 feet was a thrill, bringing it back to land was a feat.
The group was not meeting as much as they did before for some it was more times with the books, for others it was part-time jobs. Fred did recall that spending the nights at a friend's home was common, a tent or a patio meant the group could stay up all night and talk and at times waited for the 11 p.m. news to finish and watching the living room light turn off meant in a hour it was safe to raid the neighbor's garden and have your pick.
When it was time for Fred to find a job, it was delivering the Dunkirk OBSERVER. The route had 110 homes to deliver to, the pay was great - one penny for each paper. If all went well, it brought in $6.60 per week. The money was the best part of his job. The two things Fred didn't like was having one paper left when delivering to the last home and watching all his friends having fun when he was working.
The job was a six day a week job, no sick days. A job that meant running home from school and getting right to it! The job lasted until Fred's senior year when he decided that he wanted to leave high school with good grades. Time was needed to improve his grades. One also needed money, so Fred decided that he needed a better paying job. A break came when he landed a job at the ACK auto store where Fred worked the counter and got out at times for deliveries. He now had a job that gave him more money and extra time to get his marks up. All this worked out for Fred as he graduated at age 17 with great grades .
On a nice January day in 1966, he went to get the mail. One letter stood out among the others. The address in the upper left hand corner read The Department of Defense. As he opened it, he saw his first draft letter. This one was special because it had his name on it! Following the instructions, Fred found himself with others sitting in the Dunkirk Army recruiting office. A tall sergeant instructed the men to board the bus that was outdoors when their name was called.
Looking the room over, Fred noticed men he had seen around town, but he didn't know any of their names. With each seat being occupied, the bus driver headed east on Route 5 and before he knew it he was riding on the Skyway entering the city of Buffalo.
Driving on Main Street, the bus driver found the federal building with no problems. It was like he'd been there before. The group left the bus as instructed and Fred recalled it wasn't long before the group had their physicals, took a number of tests and filled out countless forms as the day was winding down. Fred's group had all been sworn in and were now officially property of the United States government being attached to its army branch.
Fred's first official military meal was at the famous Anchor Bar where one didn't need a menu. All one needed to know was how many and how hot. After his first military meal, the group boarded a New York Central Train which was still heading east with the official stop being the New York Port Authority, a place where buses were waiting to take the new recruits to their basic training at Fort Dix.
At Fort Dix, Fred found that the base wasn't all new recruits. It was a mixed battalion of draftees, volunteers, enlistees and even four professionals. The battalion also had one soldier who was 37 years old when the draft board located him.
Boot camp lasted eight weeks, which included one week of mess duty which meant being up at 0330 to get the trainees fed. On the last day of boot camp training, Fred like everyone else, received his first set of permanent orders. He now officially was a U.S. soldier ready for duty wherever the Army needed him.
As the names were called and Army jobs were assigned, he waited to hear the sergeant yell out, Private Szary, missiles TAOR (territorial area of responsibility) Germany. Fred was going to see the world; he was headed for Europe. Attached to his orders was an airline voucher for Continental Airlines. The flight was to take Fred to his new home in Wackernheim, Germany. Here he would meet his new unit and prepare to help man one of our country's missile sites. The United States has M-1-M -23 missile sites spread all over free Europe. These missiles are used to flex our muscles and maintain peace letting any country that may want to change world policies know that we are ready to keep things going as they were.
After reporting to the missile battalion's commanding officer, Fred found that his duties were to keep track of all the sites and to maintain that all personnel were properly trained, keeping track of all new updates for each site and making sure that everyone gets the right training. His responsibility covered all batteries Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta along with headquarters battery. The responsibility was enormous. The military was constantly upgrading its missile capabilities and firing orders.
Having one battery member not brought up to date with all information could bring major consequences. Along with missile training, Fred was also qualified with the M-16 and the .45-caliber pistol.
While on duty in Germany, Fred received word that he had lost his father. He was allowed to return home for 30 days to mourn his loss and use some of his yearly 30-day leave. A few weeks passed and Fred was invited to go with a few friends to a local hot spot located on Main and Second streets called Main A Go Go! Here Fred met his wife to be; she at that time didn't know it yet!!
Returning to Germany, Fred picked up where he left off at keeping all records for the batteries and maintaining rosters, making sure no one soldier was without proper training if he ever needed to fire this missile.
With his military obligation over, Fred returned home to Dunkirk. Needing a full-time job, Fred found work at Dudley Ford in the body shop, a job he really loved going to and working at. Things were going well until Fred noticed people were quitting or leaving and the owner wasn't replacing anyone. He then realized that the shop was closing and he figured he better start applying elsewhere.
An application he filled out for Ken Reiman Cadillac paid off. Fred landed a position and was now employed. While working at Reiman's, Fred started taking classes, receiving a diploma in programing. While at work, a customer told Fred there was a position at the steel plant. After work, Fred made out the application and was hired. Working eight different jobs at the steel plant, Fred found a home working the 24-inch center grinder, a position he held for 31 and a half years until his retirement.
Loving the Chevrolet Corvette for as long as he could remember, Fred finally purchased his own.
Fred enjoyed working on his and taking long rides on the weekends. This led him to be involved in a Corvette Club, a club he started which was called Corvettes East. Fred became very active. He and his wife travelled and attended many Corvette rallies that have taken them to various states.
Fred is another local veteran who did his job maintaining four Army artillery missile batteries. A job that required that no man go without proper training. A job that guaranteed its commanding officer that if ever needed will be good to go with no mistakes. Not one ever fired in a combat situation letting every enemy of the United States know we are always on guard watching and maintaining world peace.
It takes heroes like Fred Szary, who was ordered to man a missile site, hoping it will never be fired over the years. Men and women like Fred makes our military what it is today. Thank you Fred, our hero of the week, for serving.