|Keith Rocco's painting of 35th Infantry Division in Normandy where Pvt. Sowinski was captured by the Germans.|
Walter J. Sowinski could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on March 23, 1917 in New York. His parents were both born in Russia and came to America in 1907. His father was a farm laborer. Walter had an older brother and a younger brother.
Walter joined the army on April 8, 1943. He indicated that he had completed three years of high school and had worked as a furrier in the fabrication of fur goods. He was a private and was a replacement soldier sent to the 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division.
The 35th Infantry Division joined the front lines in Normandy on July 8, 1944 and immediately suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of Saint-Lo and more than 2,400 during the Normandy campaign. By late July, Pvt. Sowinski's unit was actively part of Operation Cobra to break out of the Normandy position. He went missing on August 4 and became a prisoner of war held by the Germans near St. Avold-Metz. On August 25 he wrote a note to his mother that in part said:
"I'm not wounded or sick. I'm being fed well and had a good taste of German beer. It's swell. Don't worry about me."
However, a few weeks later he succumbed to diphtheria and died on September 20, 1944.
His remains were returned to be buried at Long Island National Cemetery.
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