In honor of Veterans Day, we've put together several stories about our local World War II veterans that will be broadcast throughout the day. Here's one of those stories.
Sheridan native Charles “Chuck” Gazdik says he was just doing his duty like the rest of the boys when he served in the Pacific Theater in the final years of World War II. The winner of multiple medals for his service talks about his experiences following his enlistment in the Army in February 1944.
Gazdik, in an interview at Sheridan's Senior Center, said he applied twice to serve in the military, but the first time he was considered not fit and was sent home. He was accepted the second time, after being called up in the draft. After training at Fort Logan in Colorado and Camp Roberts, California, he joined the “Jungleers” in an assault landing on Mindanao, the Philippines, in March 1945. He is credited with wiping out an enemy machine gun position that was inflicting heavy casualties on his company.
Gazdik returned to the United States and was honorably discharged at Fort Douglas, Utah, in March 1946. In addition to Combat Infantryman and Expert Rifleman badges, he received the Distinguished Unit Citation with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with Bronze Arrowhead, World War 2 Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal with Bronze Star and two Overseas Bars.
He says the highlight of his military career was serving in General MacArthur’s headquarters. A coal miner, working at the underground mine in Monarch when he was called to military service, he returned to the mine after the war, and worked there until Monarch was shut down in 1953. He later worked for the Jersey Creamery for seven years, then at Bino's Grocery for 35 years.
“Then,” he says, “I went to the Senior Center.” He has been one of the Center's senior volunteers for more than 20 years, and is a member of the Sheridanaires, the Center's singing group. Senior Center Communications Director Lois Bell says Gazdik was instrumental in assembling the Monarch diorama at the Sheridan County Museum. He has six children, all married, 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.