May 5, 1921 (Meriden, CT) – December 7, 1941; 20 years old
Father listed at 256 Pratt Street, Meriden
Enlisted on October 15, 1940
Service number 2072961
USS Arizona (BB-39)
Born to Louis (1897-1972) and Frances Muszek Orzech (1893-1943), both born in Poland. Brothers, Bronislaw “Benjamin” (1918-1998) and Joseph (1933-2014). Sisters Antoinette “Anna” (1909-2006), Mary H. Orzech Smith (1925-1969), Theresa L. Orzech Lemke (1927-2008), Frances Orzech Pallatto (1929-2011), Veronica (1932-1990), and Genevieve I. Orzech Gawel (1937-2012).
He enlisted on October 15, 1940, and records show he arrived aboard the USS Arizona on December 10, 1940 – a short seven weeks after enlisting.
From The Record-Journal, Meriden, Connecticut on May 5, 1942
STANLEY ORZECH’S DEATH IN ACTION WAS LISTED BY THE NAVY
Killed At Pearl Harbor, First Meriden Casualty
Stanley Joseph Orzech, the 20-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Orzech of 256 Pratt Street, who was reported missing in action resulting from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, was yesterday listed officially as dead in a casualty list published by the U.S. Navy which gave the names of 2,991 officers and men of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard who gave their lives in the first four months of the war. Orzech, who was a seaman second class, enlisted in the Navy in November 1940 and was at Pearl Harbor when the Japs opened the unprovoked war by attacking without notice. Until the list was published yesterday, Seaman Orzech was listed officially as “missing” and his inclusion in the casualty list establishes him as the first Meriden native and resident known to be killed in action in the present war.
Excerpt of December 7, 2007 article in the Record-Journal in Meriden, Connecticut
“That’s a bad day for me – December 7,” said Joseph Orzech of Meriden. Orzech was 5 years old when a Western Union worker approached him, asking to speak to his parents. His mother came to the door crying, he said. “As soon as she saw him, she knew,” said Orzech. “I remember it just like it was yesterday.” The Orzech family no longer has the telegram that was delivered. “That was destroyed that day; I think from being crushed,” he said. It was a few years until Orzech realized what the visit from the Western Union worker meant. He remembers always asking when his brother, Stanislaus Orzech, would return from his trip to Hawaii. The answer was always the same, but for a young boy, the reality that his 20-year-old brother, a seaman 2nd class, died on the Arizona, was difficult to grasp. At 75, accepting his brother’s death is not much easier for Joseph Orzech; sometimes he questions whether Stanislaus Orzech may have survived. Without a body to identify, there is no closure he said. “To this day, I still wonder,” Joseph Orzech said. “What kills me is I know they suffered.” To honor his brother, Orzech named his oldest son after him. He also refuses to buy anything that is made in Japan.
USS Arizona Memorial. Photo from findagrave.com