Walter E. Sroka
Biography: Walter Edward Sroka was born on March 6, 1920, in Warwick County, Rhode Island. He was the son of Adolph Sroka and Mary Urban who were both immigrants from Poland. Walter attended local schools through the grammar level and then worked as a farm hand prior to the war.
His enlistment record indicates that he was married prior to the war.
Service Time: Walter entered the service on January 15, 1942, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The 809th Tank Destroyer Battalion was formed on March 18th from men that had already been assigned to the 633rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The initial group was 5 officers and 77 enlisted men. Walter may have been one of this first group.
He was assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 809th and would train with them at a number of military facilities including Camp Hood, Texas, Camp Gruber, Oklahoma,. Pilot Knob, California, Camp Howze, TX and Fort Benning, Georgia. The unit also took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers and Indianola Firing Range at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Arkansas.
The 809th shipped out from the New York port on November 30, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on December 8th. Just over a month later, they boarded transports and arrived at Le Havre, France, on January 20, 1945.
They were equipped with M18 tank destroyers and supported the Roer River crossings in late February, 1945. Crossing the Rhine on March 27th, they supported operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April and converted to M36 tank destroyers that same month. The 809th finally helped clear the Harz mountains in late April.
The unit received credit for two campaigns, Rhineland and Central Europe.
Minimal information is available for Walter after the war but it is believed that he went on to have a family with two boys and three girls.
Walter passed away on June 20, 1995, and was buried in the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, RI. Thank you to Gail Anderson for providing the grave marker photo.