First Sergeant Stephen A. Martosko

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Grouping: First Sergeant Stephen A. Martosko (ASN: 35010563)

Stephen Andrew Martosko was born on January 8, 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio. At the age of 25 (on February 27, 1941) he went to the Cleveland recruiting & induction station, and was accepted for active military service. He was then forwarded to the Reception Center, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. A Reception Center is an installation for the reception of new personnel, including completion of all necessary records, issue of individual equipment, classification as to occupation, completion of immunization for smallpox and typhoid, assignment and forwarding to tactical units or to other installations, such as Replacement Centers. An important function of Reception Centers was the personal interview of each man. A qualification card was made out for each individual and based upon this information, verified in some instances by testing, inducted men could be placed where they could do the job they knew how to do best, and where the Army could gain the most from their services.[1]

After Stephen went through the reception center he went into basic training, becoming a private, and later a private first class. When he was assigned to D Company of the 7th Infantry Regiment, Stephen was promoted to Corporal on September 5, 1942. Not long after his promotion, he was sent overseas, to North Africa.

Stephen Martosko served in the 7th Infantry Regiment (part of the 3rd Infantry Division), which fought German forces on three fronts, North Africa, Italy, and Northwest Europe. The regiment conducted four amphibious landings against beach defenses, and fought in 10 campaigns. Below is a newspaper article that was published during the war.

Newspaper article (April 3, 1943)
Corporal writes of African landing experiences
“Today makes it two years in the service,” wrote Corporal Stephen A. Martosko on February 27, “and I have been thinking of all that I’ve seen, done and heard. It amounts to quite a bit …” Previous letters from their son who is somewhere in North Africa have given Mr. and Mrs. Michael Martosko, 3573 W. 50th Street, some idea by now of how much “a bit” means.

Shortly after American forces landed on the Dark Continent he wrote: “We are permitted to write more now and also tell where we are and of our experiences during our first bit of warfare. As to that –I’ll only say that our landing was pretty rugged and that we went through plenty of artillery fire. I don’t believe that I’ve ever dug so much and so quickly as I did in those four days!”

“It was a thrill and quite an experience. The main thing is that I am safe and sound and in one piece. I received a few bruises in the landing but that was all. I spent the first 48 hours without my helmet and rifle as I lost them in the water coming ashore. Everything is very much under control now.”

The beer, says Corporal Martosko, bears little resemblance to the home product. “It seems that the farther away we go, Dad, the worse the beer gets. I guess though it’s due to the rationing of grain and sugar.”

He has repeatedly begged his family not to worry. “I certainly wish you people back home would be a little less serious and not worry so much when you hear of a guy scratching himself. I know that the times make you think that way but you shouldn’t. Everything is fine.”

The other day Corporal Martosko sent home gifts for everyone. There were bright green leather “slippers” embroidered in gold metallic thread for his mother, gold beads and a leather change purse for his sister and a leather cigarette case for his father.

Corporal Martosko attended St. Wendelin School and West Technical High School. He was a machine gunner in the infantry.

Ten campaigns (European-African-Middle-Eastern Theater of Operations)
The 7th Infantry participated in ten campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. They are listed below with the time limitations for each campaign as determined by the War Department. The star behind the campaign denotes an amphibious assault.[2]

– Algeria-French Morocco* (8 to 11 November 1942)
– Tunisia (17 November 1942 to 13 May 1943)
– Sicily* (9 July 1943 to 17 August 1943)
– Naples-Foggia (9 September 1943 to 21 January 1944)
– Anzio* (22 January to 24 May 1944)
– Rome-Arno (22 January to 9 September 1944)
– Southern France* (15 August to 14 September 1944)
– Rhineland (15 September 1944 to 21 March 1945)
– Ardennes-Alsace (16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945)
– Central Europe (22 March to 11 May 1945)

On November 8 1942, the regiment conducted an amphibious landing in Morocco. In July 1943, the regiment made an amphibious assault on Sicily. In 1944, it landed at Anzio, conducted a breakthrough and drove towards Rome. In August 1944, the regiment made another amphibious assault, this time in Southern France as part of Operation Dragoon, advancing up the Rhone River to the German frontier.

After fighting in the Vosges and in the Alsace at the Colmar Pocket the 7th crossed the Rhine into Germany. Taking part in the seizure of Munich it headed for Austria, reaching the Salzburg area in the waning days of the war. Under the command of Colonel John A. Heintges elements of the regiment serving under the 3rd Infantry Division had the honor of capturing Hitler’s retreat at Berchtesgaden.

On January 8, 1945, First Sergeant Stephen Martosko was honorably discharged from the Army, having served for over 3 years overseas. During his time in service, Stephen Martosko received several awards. Among his awards are the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the European African-Middle Eastern campaign medal with bronze arrowhead and several campaign stars, the Good Conduct medal and various other campaign medals.

[1] WWII Administration – Induction, http://users.skynet.be/jeeper/induction.html
[2] WWII Order of Battle, 2006 (p. 200, 596)