Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Chester Michael Matyjasik, who served in Europe during World War II and had the nickname “The Flagman.”
Chester Michael Matyjasik was born in February 1923 in the small town of Mogadore, Ohio. After graduating high school, he worked as a fireman and an engineer on the AC&Y Railroad in Akron, Ohio.
In 1943, Matyjasik enlisted in the Army and went to Camp Gordon, Georgia, to train for six months. In addition, the Army sent him to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to become skilled as an artillery mechanic.
After his training was complete, Matyjasik went overseas to England to serve in the European theater.
When speaking about his time in the service, Matyjasik recalled one of his worst days: when he spent his Christmas of 1944 fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Located inside the Hurtgen
Forest along the border of Belgium and Germany, his main job was to set up howitzers. He sighted and prepared the guns so that they would be ready for action.
A highlight of Matyjasik’s service was when he met, shook hands, and spoke with
General George S. Patton. He recalled, “He was a fighter because he always said, ‘When you’re with me you don’t have to dig […] With your blood and my guts, […] we’ll get through this and we won’t have to dig to do it.’” This was music to his ears, since digging was a common past-time in setting up barricades and artillery throughout his service.
Matyjasik came home from his service in 1946. He married in 1947 and lived in Mentor, Ohio with his wife, Florence Matyjasik, where he enjoyed being an avid sportsman, including fishing, hunting and golfing. He worked as a tool and die maker at the former Cleveland
Graphite and Bronze Company for 30 years before he retired.
Matyjasik’s strong passion for patriotism continued even after his service. He was known as “The Flagman” within his community, since he set up nearly 300 American flags in his front yard every Memorial Day for 48 consecutive years. Numerous television stations interviewed him and showed the love he had for the United States and its flag.
At the age of 90, Matyjasik passed away on June 22nd, 2013 at the Ohio Veteran’s Home in Sandusky, Ohio.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Suzannah Kozlowski