Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.
Ignatius J. Olewski was a member of the United States Army Company H 115th Infantry Division, 29th Regiment. He was a Corporal with a pay grade of E-4.
During World War II, he participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy June 6th, 1944 for the Allied Occupation of France.
He was killed in action Aug. 29, 1944 in a battle near St. James, France. Cpl. Olewski had been buried in a U.S. military cemetery in St. James, France. Upon request of the family, the body of Corporal Olewski was transported back home to receive a proper military funeral and was laid to rest next to his family.
The military funeral of Corporal Olewski was held June 28, 1945. There were services at the family residence at 124 South Jerboa St. and later at St. Hyacinths Church, where a Requiem High Mass was celebrated by Rt. Rev. Michael Helminiak. The Veterans of World War II attended in a body. Members of the organization who served as casket bearers were Joseph Cybart, Joseph Kozlowski Jr., Andrew Szymanski, Stanley Jesse, Chester Pawlak, and Alphonse Krzakala. Burial was at St. Hyacinths Cemetery. Military services were conducted by the Veterans, headed by Commander Julian Opacinch. Officer of the Day Harry Wlodarek was in charge of the Firing Squad, which honored the fallen hero with a 21 gun salute. In the background, the mourners heard Taps played by Roland Rose.
The body of Dunkirk's fallen hero was brought back home from the cemetery in St. James, France by U.S. Army Body Guard and a Military Escort Corporal who received the body of Corporal Olewski before the body could be transported to the family's home.
Ignatius J. Olewski was born July 23, 1909. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Olewski of 124 Jerboa Street in Dunkirk's First Ward. Before he entered the service in March of 1942, he was employed by the American Locomotive Co.
This young veteran left behind four sisters and two brothers, Mrs. Mary Chudzicki, Mrs. Anna Kendziora of Erie, Pa., Sister Mary Salomea of the Felician Order of Salamanca, Mrs. Lillian Halasinski of Dunkirk, and brothers Adam and Barney of Erie, Pa.
A telegram was sent by Corporal Olewski on August 21, 1944, just eight days before he lost his life while in the service to his country. Corporal Olewski had found a way to get a message home to his mother. A UA 5 International Telegraph CD Sandsorigine via RCA was sent to EFM Mrs. Rose Olewski, 124 S. Jerboa Street, Dunkirk, N.Y. USA. The telegraph read as follows:
MOM YOU ARE MORE THEN EVER IN MY THOUGHTS AT THIS TIME. BEST WISHES AND GOOD HEALTH PLEASE DON'T WORRY
- IGNATIUS OLEWSKI
The telegram was received August 24 at 7:10 a.m.
"Don't worry" were the very last words that this young Corporal had written to his mother when he found time, never knowing that that would be the final words his mother knew came from her son. Don't worry. How many mothers heard those words knowing in their hearts that their sons were in harm's way? We know them as soldiers, fighting men trained to protect and defend. If they failed, who knows what kind of world we would be living in? As for those mothers, they know them as the child they protected growing up, making sure they kept their son safe so he could grow up and someday have a son of his own.