Oct. 26, 1925 – June 22, 2015
Edward L. Drabczyk, a decorated Army veteran, died unexpectedly Monday in his Town of Tonawanda home. He was 89.
Born in Niagara Falls, Mr. Drabczyk served as a machine gunner during World War II in the Army’s L Company, 30th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
His wartime experiences were described in a story in The Buffalo News in 2010.
At dawn on March 19, 1945, he and fellow machine gunners were ordered to make a “lightning thrust” across the French border into Germany. Three hours into the trip, German machine gunners started firing, Mr. Drabczyk told The News at the time.
Rockets, known as “screaming meemies,” showered the Americans, and the next thing Mr. Drabczyk knew, he was on the ground, his face and helmet in the dirt.
Shrapnel from the rockets struck all over the back of his body, “from my toes to my shoulders. But the only place I felt pain at first was my left thigh and right elbow.”
A sergeant from inside the tank on which Mr. Drabczyk was riding hurried out and assisted him. Another barrage of rockets hammered the column.
“Without hesitation, the (sergeant) laid on top of me as a shield. There were explosions all around us, but we were not hit,” Mr. Drabczyk told The News. He was 19 at the time.
Mr. Drabczyk underwent back surgery at a field hospital and spent three months in a body cast. He returned to the United States on a hospital ship in June 1945.
By December 1945, he was discharged and able to walk into his family’s home to celebrate Christmas. “Anything I have since 1945 is a gift, especially my wife and my son,” Mr. Drabczyk told The News in 2010.
His decorations included the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
Mr. Drabczyk retired from Goldome Bank and Parkview Pharmacy.
For achievements in bowling and as a youth baseball player, he was inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame.
Survivors include his son, Edward; a brother, Richard; and a granddaughter. His wife, the former Florence M. Kochocki, died in 2009.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday in St. Christopher Catholic Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Town of Tonawanda.