Tec5 Walter Pnoiedzialek Name : Walter Poniedzialek
Rank : Technician 5th Class
Regiment : 540th Combat Engineers
Battalion : 2833rd Battalion
Entered Service from : Michigan
Date of Birth : 30 March 1917
Awards : Combat Infantry Badge
Good Conduct
Expert Sniper Badge
Presidential Unit Citation

Walter Poniedzialek's Story ...

Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek, was born on March 30, 1917 in Detroit, Michigan, and was a proud member of the 540th Combat Engineer Regiment. He was married and had a daughter named Marion. Since a few years Marion is trying to absorb every bit of information she can find on her father. She even created a website dedicated to his memory and to that of the VI Corps Combat Engineers.

a "crows nest" traffic signal tower in Detroit, 1917

According to a postcard, dated March 1943, which was sent from Fort Custer to his mother Mary, Walter started his army stint at Fort Custer near Battle Creek, Michigan ... Walter survived the second World War, but passed away when his daughter Marion was only 12 years old.

front of the postcard ... Fort Custer, Walter is eight from the right - back row

the backside of the same postcard, dated March 1943

Marion remembers that her father loved talking about his service in the European theatre and vividly recalls some horror stories about men who met unfortunate fates. He would proudly show off his German Luger and a sword that he took home as souvenirs, sadly Marion no longer possesses those ...

a German Luger, WWII

An old army buddy of Walter, Ira Wheatley told Marion about the countless days they spent on the beaches of Anzio and how they had to bury vehicles under the sand to keep the machinery running so that the army could keep on the move.

the beaches at Anzio (Italy) during the landings

Marion tried to find out what division, regiment or battalion Walter was in. She did know that he was in the Army Corps of the Engineers. He had a 5th Army Patch and also 7th Army Patch and that's where the confusion really set in. She didn't know what division, regiment or battalion he was in. What she did know was the fact that he was in Company C and that he trained at Fort (Camp) Custer located in Michigan.

the patches of 5th and 7th Army

She turned to the internet and learned that the Red Bull Patch was associated with the 34th Infantry Division From other sources Marion learned that engineers were never permanently part of any division. They were attached to different divisions during their tour of duty; the 3rd, the 36th and the 45th, who were all a part of the VI Corps. The 34th Division was involved in Italy. The engineers were part of the 5th Army in Africa and Italy and again after they reached Germany. They were the 7th Army in Sicily and France.

unloading ships at Sicily (Italy)

Having accomplished another mission, Marion attempted to find out what the pin with a crown and seahorse was. She found out that he was with the 540th Combat Engineers Group (Amphibious) and that the crown above the seahorse stands for five landings, while the nine points on the back of the seahorse represent the battles. This pin enabled Marion to see exactly where Walter and his unit had been during World War II ...

The Red and White (Hat) Cord- designates the Corps of Engineers The Seahorse- the Emblem of the Amphibious Forces The Crown- designates the unit as the King of the Amphibious Forces The Five Points of the Crown- each point represents a landing on a hostile shore The Nine Points on the back of the Seahorse- each point represents battles in which the 540th participated in WWII.

1. North Africa (with Arrowhead) 11-8-42 to 11-11-42
2. Sicily (with Arrowhead) 7-9-43 to 8-17-43
3. Naples/Salerno (with Arrowhead) 9-9-43 to 1-21-44
4. Anzio (with Arrowhead) 1-22-44 to 5-24-44
5. Rome/Arno 5-24-44 to 8-15-44
6. Southern France (with Arrowhead) 8-15-44 to 9-14-44
7. Rhineland 9-15-44 to 3-21-45
8. Ardennes/Alsace (Battle of the Bulge) 12-15-44 to 1-25-45
9. Central Europe/Rhineland 3-22-45 to 5-11-45

the Crest of the 2833rd Engineer Combat Battalion

Various sources shed light on Walter's service in WWII. People like Rene Rousselle, John Fallon and Clifford Duncan became good friends and great guides for Marion on her quest to unveil her father's past ...

Through her search and large amounts of information, Marion learned that her father was part of Headquarters & Service Company. The son of Ernest Joy surprised Marion when he told her that his father had a picture of Walter in Kaufbeuren (Germany) in 1945. She finally found someone who knew her dad personally. The photo showed Walter and 16 other guys in the motor pool. Through this photo Marion was able to determine her father's rank ... He was a Tech-5.

the photo in the motor pool ...
Walter is 2nd from the left in the front row (Monday)

The photo also enabled her to confirm that Walter was part of the 2833rd Battalion (previously known as the 2nd Battalion 540th) because he was conveniently holding his helmet on his knee with the 2833rd insignia facing the camera ... a simple placement which helped his daughter Marion many decades later on her quest for her father, Walter Podniedzialek ...

Special thanks to Walter's daughter Marion Chard

Marion's website: VI Combat Engineers
published May 18, 2006