DVIDS – News – Honoring a Hero’s Legacy: 3-15th Infantry Regiment Welcomes Medal of Honor Recipient’s Family


Honoring a Hero’s Legacy:
3-15 Infantry Regiment welcomes family of Medal of Honor recipient
By Spc. Jordyn Worshek

The Medal of Honor is the highest recognition for actions on the battlefield. It is awarded for conspicuous bravery and fearlessness at the risk of life beyond the call of duty. During World War II, Staff Sgt. Sylvester Antolak, a soldier assigned to 1st Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, made the ultimate sacrifice for his men against the German enemy.
Last week, Bob Antolak, the nephew of Sgt. Antolak and his wife Donna visited the “China” Battalion to honor his memory and see the battalion in which he served. Lt. Col. Arthur McGrue, commanding officer of 3-15 IN Battalion, escorted the Antolaks to the “China Room,” where the unit’s history and accomplishments unfold, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, on March 12, 2019.
Pfc. Joseph Miller and Master Sgt. Tyrone Love guided the Antolaks through the storied hall, explaining the historical significance of flags, awards, photos and artifacts held by the unit. The Antolaks gained a better understanding of Sylvester’s contribution to the history of 3-15 IN, as the soldiers gave detailed accounts of several artifacts from the era in which he served.
Including the most decorated soldier in US history, Lt. Audie Murphy, who served in 1-15 IN during the Siege of Italy, where Antolak earned his Medal of Honor. Murphy witnessed Antolak’s heroic actions that earned him the Medal of Honor and referenced them in his memoir titled “To Hell and Back”.
According to the official citation on honorstates.org, “Sgt. Antolak charged 200 yards across flat, uncovered terrain to destroy an enemy machine gun nest during the second day of the offensive that broke through the German steel cord around the Anzio beachhead. Well 30 meters ahead of his squad, he was met with enemy machine gun, submachine gun and rifle fire. Three times he was hit by bullets and knocked to the ground , but each time he struggled to get up to continue his relentless progress.
Due to his willingness to sacrifice his own life, superb courage in battle, and heroic devotion to the attack, Antolak was directly responsible for eliminating 20 Germans, capturing an enemy machine gun, and clearing of the way for his company to move forward. This legacy of bravery lives on today.
“We tried to retrace my uncle’s steps to see if there was anything like we saw today, and that’s where it all is,” Bob Antolak said, referring to the China Room. . “Growing up, you sort of heard the story. My dad is a WWII veteran, so [on] Memorial Day, you would hear the story. In 1990 we got tapes so I could see the diagram of what he had done. I think with age and time you appreciate it and understand it more, and we’re very proud of that.
Antolak’s legacy continues to inspire family members since his actions in 1944. His nephew, Paul, spoke as a section of Interstate 70 was dedicated in his honor, and a statue renders tribute to Antolak in his hometown of St. Clairsville, Ohio. Over the years, Donna and Bob Antolak pursue and uncover ever more information, painting a canvas that is both vast and extraordinary.
“Our son did more research on it and we said, ‘Wow, it really happened that way and it’s really impressive and amazing – the dedication he had. It’s humbling to think you’re related to someone who’s done something as amazing as him,” Donna Antolak shared. “And the company he’s in. The other people are just amazing.”
This legacy still beats in the hearts of modern 3-15 IN soldiers, including Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Arthur McGrue.
“His actions are basically what I am trying to impress upon our young leaders now. I want our squad leaders to continue to close in and destroy the enemy, and in doing so they have their soldiers with them,” McGrue said. “And when you read his story, that’s exactly what he does, despite being injured and shot many times. He keeps getting up and moving until he destroys the German machine gun nest.
“Although he was killed that day, his actions inspired his men to press forward and [they] ended up winning this battle. These types of triumphs give others the courage to press forward and secure victory.
McGrue hopes the family left knowing the mark Sgt. Sylvester Antolak is gone, and the inspiration he is to others.
“The one thing I want them to be able to go back to is that neither his name nor his fame will ever perish as long as the regiment is here. He will always be on that wall and will be remembered as one of the heroes famous from 3-15 IN.
For more photos, visit the 3-15 IN facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/315IN/, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team Twitter @SpartanBrigade and DVIDShub.net.

Date taken: 03.12.2019
Date posted: 16.03.2019 18:34
Story ID: 314550
Site: FORT STEWART, Georgia, USA

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