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WWII Veteran Turns 94

John and Helen (Billie ) Sudyk celebrating John’s 94th birthday. (MP Photo/Colleen Lockhart)

On April 23, friends and family helped celebrate the 94th birthday of John R. Sudyk.  John is a World War II Veteran, drafted into the Army in the 187th Field Artillery Battalion and served from 1942 through 1945. He ended his service with rank of Corporal, returning home Nov. 25, 1945. John married his fiancé, Helen (Billie) Clarke, on Dec. 16, 1945.

During the war, Billie helped support the war effort by working at Chase Brass in Cleveland, making shells for artillery, purchasing war bonds, and rationing by gathering everything they could find that could be used for the war effort.

John is proud to have served his country and he and his wife, Billie, had the honor of telling their first-hand stories about their lives during WWII for the Veterans History Project. John’s artillery battalion landed on Normandy beach on the coast of France, contributing to the Allied victory on the Western Front. He was part of the American Army who advanced through France and Belgium and into Germany. They fought in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, the longest battle on German ground during WWII, and in the Battle of the Bulge, where United States forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred their highest casualties for any operation during the war. John’s battalion marched to Paris when it was liberated. John shared that if the Germans had not taken on the Russians, Germany could have won. He hopes our youngsters realize what all our veterans have gone through in all the wars so they are able to enjoy the freedom they have today.

Billie lived in Cleveland while John was serving in the Army, sharing rides with four other women going to work at Chase Brass. She wrote two or three letters every evening, paying six cents for every stamp and then waited for John’s letters that came in batches. The day the D-Day Invasion started, usually noisy with chatter among the workers, all that was heard in the Chase Brass factory was the thump, thump, thump of the machinery. No one talked, they just worked harder to help supply ammunition for the Army.

John and Billie have spoken about their experiences during World War II on many occasions, providing items from that era for display.  They plan to continue to make themselves available upon request to help educate audiences about what the world was like during that time.  The book, “Forever A Soldier” is available at the Middlefield Library and contains a story titled “John Sudyk: The Soldier of 10,000 Rounds” on pages 28 through 34.

The Sudyk’s reside in Huntsburg on one of the five Ohio Sesquicentennial Farms, owned by their family since 1818. For interviews about their experiences, the udyk’s submissions can be found on the Library of Congress website, www.loc.gov/vet nd search the Veteran’s Collection for Sudyk.  The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, nd makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

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