In Recognition of Francis Chesko for Extensive Military Service During World War IIby Representative Matt Cartwright
Posted on 2014-12-11
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Mr. CARTWRIGHT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Francis Chesko,
who is being recognized by the Mahanoy City Historical Society on
Saturday, December 13, 2014. During World War II, Mr. Chesko took part
in the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge, reached the rank of
sergeant in the 148th Engineer Battalion, received five Bronze Stars
and the Army Presidential Unit Citation for his service.
In 1942, Francis received his basic training in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. In October, he was deployed and stationed in Swidon, England, where he helped construct a Bailey bridge and a landing strip. While in Swindon, Francis was informed that his brother Joseph, who was also enlisted, was stationed 25 miles away from Francis's post. The two were able to visit each other one weekend with permission from Francis's captain. Shortly thereafter, Francis's outfit was ordered to move south to Southampton and prepare to leave for German-occupied France. On June 6, 1944, Francis landed on Utah Beach as part of the Allied Invasion of Normandy.
On July 19, 1944, Francis was wounded during German shelling in the town of La Haye du Puits. He returned to Swindon for treatment. After his recovery, Francis was sent back across the English Channel and joined the 7th Armored Division in Holland. While serving with the 7th Armored Division, Francis endured the Battle of the Bulge. During the battle, while his unit was constructing a small tree-cut bridge, Francis narrowly avoided being hit by an 88-mm enemy mortar shell.
While guarding a bridge in Holland, German forces took Francis's unit by surprise. After a friendly anti-tank round misfired, Francis and comrades had to fall back from their position. While trying to avoid a German tank, Francis was knocked over by debris sent flying by enemy gunfire. Friendly reinforcements arrived and disabled the German armor. Later, German forces began bombarding Francis's position. In the midst of the shelling, he took cover in a ditch and did not discover until the next morning that a mortar struck the ground above. Fortunately, the round did not go off.
Francis's unit was dug in at the town of St. Vith, Belgium when Germans attacked the town on December 17, 1944. His division was ordered to hold their position for three days; they held it for five. German forces eventually took the town, but on January 23, Allied Forces recaptured it. After the Battle of the Bulge, Francis's unit helped construct the longest bridge of the war (1,300 feet) over the Rhine river. As he pushed into Germany, Allied Forces liberated 1,200 captive American soldiers.
Francis currently resides in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania with his wife Rose. They have been married over 65 years and have been blessed with 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. I am sure Francis has been thanked many times for his brave service to his country, but, today, I add one more official notation of gratitude for his heroic answer to our nation's call to military duty.