Eugene joined the U.S. Army on 21 Feb 1941 and initially
served in an unidentified unit, probably as an infantryman.
However, he later volunteered for parachutist duty and completed jump
school, probably at Fort Benning, where he completed the requisite five
jumps "from an aircraft in flight" to earn his parachutist badge.
He was shipped overseas and joined the 11th Replacement Depot (APO 131)
which may have been located in Northern Ireland at that time.
On 10 August 1944. Eugene was assigned to Company C, 508th Parachute
Infantry Regiment (PIR) which was attached to the 82nd Airborne
Division. The 508th then was stationed in Nottingham, England time to
rebuild its strength after suffering heavy losses during the invasion of
France on D-Day and 33 days of combat thereafter.
He was with the 508th PIR when the regiment jumped into Nijmegen,
Holland as part of operation Market-Garden on 17 Sep 1944. He was
slightly wounded there that same day.
Eugene was promoted to the rank of Private First Class on 1 Jan 1945
while the regiment was in the midst of the Battle of The Bulge in the
Ardennes forest, Belgium.
On 22 Jan 45 he was reported as Missing In Action (MIA).
His status was changed on 9 Feb 1945 from MIA to Killed In Action (KIA)
in Deidenberg, Belgium on 22 Jan 1945.
Pfc Gawlak was initially interred in Plot III, Row 2, Grave 28 in the
Henri Chapelle temporary American Cemetery, Belgium.
After the war, the Gawlak family opted to have Eugene's remains brought
home. He was disinterred on 8 Sep 1947 and his casket joined many others
in the lengthy process of shipping thousands of caskets.
His remains were in transit four months and on 10 Jan 1948 Pfc Gawlak
was laid to his final rest in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, MO.
(courtesy of Sharon Howell)
marker for Pfc Eugene F. Gawlak
at Plot: 22, 928 in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri,
Pfc Gawlak was killed in action on 22 January 1945 and was awarded the Purple Heart