GREGORY S KOWALESKI

GREGORY S KOWALESKI - SGT

  • HOMETOWN:
  • riverside
  • COUNTY:
  • Burlington
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • May 12, 1947
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • May 20, 1968
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SGT
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


Gregory Stanley Kowaleski was born on May 12, 1947, to Stanley and Janet Kowaleski.  His home of record is Riverside, NJ. 

Gregory attended Lenape High School and graduated in 1965.  He liked baseball, hunting and trapping.  He had a very dry sense of humor.

Gregory entered into the US Army on August 18, 1966.  Prior to his service in Vietnam he was sent to the Dominican Republic in April 1967, to complete a joint military exercise.  He attained the rank of Sergeant (SGT).  Gregory served with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 173rd Airborne, 503rd Infantry.

Kowaleski was killed in action on May 20, 1968.  He is buried in Beverly National Cemetery, Beverly, NJ.

Kowaleski was awarded the Bronze Star Medal w/Oak Leaf Cluster.

Gregory S. Kowaleski was born on May 12, 1947.  He graduated from Lenape High School in 1965.  He loved hunting, trapping and loved his homing pigeons.  Gregory's father, Stanley Kowaleski, was a POW in Germany during the last 11 months of WWII.

On August 18, 1966, Gregory and John Bohem enlisted in the U.S. Army under the Buddy Plan and volunteered for Airborne Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  While returning back from a range, Gregory and John were on different buses.  It was raining.  John's bus went off the road and down an embankment.  John was hurt and in the hospital for six weeks while Gregory completed his Airborne training.  When John went back to Airborne training, he did not know anyone and wavered Airborne and was sent to Vietnam and became a Helicopter Door Gunner.  After Gregory graduated, he was in the 82nd Airborne and was sent to Vietnam on February 16th, 1967 and was in the 173rd Airborne Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry.

While in Vietnam, Gregory was in many firefights.  He was one of the few that survived the Battle of Hill 875.  The Battle of Hill 875 lasted for 5 days and the day that the 173rd took the hill was Thanksgiving Day, November 1967.  Gregory would write me every time that he had a chance.  The letters telling me what these men went through on Hill 875 were hard to believe.

In March of 1968, Gregory came home for his grandfather's funeral.  While home for this period of time, he spent two weeks at Fort Dix Hospital being treated for malaria. 

After Gregory recovered, he was sent back to Vietnam to serve out his remaining tour.  Before he left, he told me he didn't feel that he was going to be coming home alive.

Gregory was in the field after returning to Vietnam in province of Binh Dihn.  May 12th was his 21st birthday.  On May 20th, while crossing a rice paddie, his patrol was ambushed and Gregory was hit in the left side.  The firefight was so intense that the Dust Off helicopter was not able to land.  Gregory died shortly after being medically evacuated out of the zone.

           Written by Leonard Kowaleski, Cousin

Kowaleski's Bronze Star citations read:
Bronze Star for Heroism
For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force:  Specialist Four Kowaleski distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 19 November 1967 in the Republic of Vietnam.  On this day, Company A, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, made heavy enemy contact near Dak To, Republic of Vietnam.  During the intense battle, Company A was cut off from the rest of the battalion.  In an effort to regain contact with friendly forces, Specialist Kowaleski moved to the heaviest point of contact and began placing extremely accurate fire on the enemy positions.  In his assault, Specialist Kowaleski continued to move from position to position, exposing himself to the enemy fire.  While moving forward, Specialist Kowaleski shouted words of encouragement and aided the wounded to safe areas.  Having secured medical treatment for the wounded, he returned to the front lines and began inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy force.  Specialist Four Kowaleski's outstanding display of aggressiveness, devotion to duty, and personal bravery were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Award of the Bronze Star (First Oak Leaf Cluster)
For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force:  Sergeant Kowaleski distinguished himself on 20 May 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam.  On this day, when Company A made contact with enemy force, the Second Platoon found itself under extremely heavy enemy fire.  Sergeant Kowaleski immediately, with complete disregard for his own safety, dashed forward to the point of heaviest contact and began to engage the enemy.  He moved from position to position through the intense enemy fire to force the enemy back.  He continued to place accurate and effective fire upon the enemy until he was mortally wounded.  Sergeant Kowaleski's actions were in keeping with the highest military traditions and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Sources: Leonard Kowaleski (cousin), Joseph and Barbara Kowaleski (cousins), Ed Perkins (friend) and NJVVMF.

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