December 14, 1920 (Zelienople, PA) – September 25, 1944; 23 years old
Engaged to Julia Ann Barcheski (1924-1993) of Norwalk
Last local address: 15 Frances Avenue, South Norwalk
Enlisted July 3, 1942
Service number: 31142848
Unit: 88th Infantry Division, 350th Infantry Regiment (“Battle Mountain Regiment”)
Born to John (1893-1939) and Bertha Verba Sedlak (1894-1973). Two sisters Bertha L. Sedlak Kerry (1918-2004) and Anna M. Sedlak Mato (1919-2007).
Awarded the Purple Heart Medal twice.
The official cause of death is “Died of Wounds (DOW)”. No other details are known.
From The Norwalk Hour September 18, 1944
From the Norwalk Hour October 18, 1944
Staff Sergeant Joseph J. Sedlak, 23, serving with the United States Army in Italy for the past year, died of injuries on September 25, according to a War Department telegram received today by his mother, Mrs. Bertha Sedlak of Pogany Street. Sedlak’s mother possesses the Purple Heart awarded to her son for injuries received in the service and sent to her several months ago. Sedlak also received the coveted Combat Infantry Badge. He previously had what seemed to be a narrow escape from death as he was bathing in an Italian stream. A shell landed in the stream about 10 years from where Sedlak was enjoying his first bath in 40 days, but it failed to explode although it did shower mud upon the soldier. He joined the Army on July 16, 1942, and had his basic training at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma in infantry tactics. He had been home on furlough on September 29, 1943, and went overseas in November. Mrs. Sedlak received her last letter from the soldier three weeks ago today at which time he wrote that he was in good health, was feeling fine, and had just returned from a five-day leave which he spent in Rome. The Hour published on September 8, a picture it had received from Sergeant Sedlak in which he and two other Norwalkers, Eugene Nyardy Jr. and Louis Reda, who had met in Italy while on pass were shown together in a group. Staff Sergeant Sedlak was cited by his regiment of the 88th Infantry Division in August and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge for actual participation in combat with the enemy on the Fifth Army front in Italy. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant last April at which time he was a squad leader in an infantry unit. Before entering the service, he was employed by the T.H. Catty Company in Norwalk. He would have been 24 on December 14. Surviving is his mother and two sisters, Mrs. Bertha Kerry of Pogany Street, and Mrs. Anna Lato of Soundview Avenue.
From mtmestas.com, an account of 350th Infantry Regiment action on the day SSgt Sedlak was killed in action
September 25th: As this day began, it saw the two leading battalions still moving forward against continued fierce enemy resistance. In the advance of each unit from hill to hill, they always were faced by groups of enemy dug in at each strategic point, who would fight hard and then withdraw to the next defendable feature and the process would start all over again. This factor, plus the exceedingly steep and mountainous terrain, resulted in the Regiment being slowed down considerably. In conjunction with this, the enemy shelled the entire area with artillery and mortars from the vicinity of the village of Vassola Caserno, a small town in the XIII Corps sector on the right. At 0830, the 3rd Battalion approached and assaulted the abominable Mt. Acuto and captured this height, only to be strongly counterattacked on two occasions which resulted in the enemy being thrown back from the hill, leaving approximately fifty dead with an estimated one hundred and fifty fleeing to the next hill. Also, the enemy was seen crammed on the road at Castel Del Rio with transportation and an urgent call was sent to get planes to strafe this spot immediately. The 2nd Battalion was moving forward slowly and captured Hill 680 but was encountering fanatical resistance. After hard fighting, the 2nd Battalion captured Mt. Alto approximately one thousand yards to the east of the 3rd Battalion and it looked as if the Regiment was moving again. The left flank was being strengthened by the 351st Infantry advancing along the Castel Del Rio road in contrast with the right flank which continued to be extremely vulnerable as the XIII Corps had only reached the 05 Northern which crossed the right flank for a distance of seven or eight thousand yards. General Ornay (illegible), the Assistant Division Commander, came to the Command Post to personally observe the situation. A message: “The Corps Commander states it is vital to the 5th Army to secure Mt. Carnavals (illegible) and Mt. Rattogla (illegible), CG directs you to take them as soon as possible.” Due to the heavy fighting, it was difficult to get rations and supplies to the hard-fighting battalions which resulted in some forward units having only one “K” ration meal a day to carry them through the fighting. Evacuation of the wounded also was a serious problem as anything that approached the forward line units would receive an intense shelling of artillery or mortar fire. END
Sergeant Sedlak is buried at Florence American Cemetery, Via Cassia, 50023 Tavarnuzze FI, Impruneta, Italy; Plot B, Row 9, Grave 21.