Sylvester Antolak MOH

b. 10/09/1916 St Clairsville, Ohio. d. 24/05/1944 Cisterna di Littoria, Italy.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24/05/1944 Cisterna di Littoria, Italy.

Sylvester Antolak MOH

He joined the US Army in July 1941, and after his recruit and combat training, he was sent to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. It was during the Italian Campaign that his heroism and self-sacrifice in combat would win him the Medal of Honor. He was also awarded the Purple Heart. In his book “To Hell and Back” fellow Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy wrote an account of the actions “Lutsky” as Antolak was known took on 24th May 1944.

“We roll over the wall and find ourselves in the range of two enemy strong points. But for the moment, the krauts are ignoring us. They are absorbed in trying to split the two groups of men that preceded us.

A sergeant in the first platoon senses the predicament. If his men are isolated, they will likely be destroyed. He makes his decision quickly. Motioning his men to follow, he rises and with a submachine gun charges head-on toward one of the enemy positions two hundred yards away.

On the flat, coverless terrain, his body is a perfect target. A blast of automatic fire knocks him down. He springs to his feet with a bleeding shoulder and continues his charge. The guns rattle. Again he goes down.

Fascinated, we watch as he gets up for the third time and dashes straight into the enemy fire. The Germans throw everything they have at him. He falls to the earth; and when he again pulls himself to his feet, we see that his right arm is shattered. But wedging his gun under his left armpit, he continues firing and staggers forward. Ten horrified Germans throw down their guns and yell “Kamerad”.

That is all I see. But later I learn that the sergeant, ignoring the pleas of his men to get under cover and wait for medical attention, charged the second enemy strongpoint. By sheer guts, he advanced sixty yards before being stopped by a final concentration of enemy fire. He reeled, then tottered forward another few yards before falling.

Inspired by his valor and half-insane with rage, his men took over, stormed the kraut emplacement, and captured it. When they returned to their leader, he was dead.

This was how Lutsky, the sergeant, helped buy the freedom that we cherish and abuse.”

On 1st November 1945, his Medal of Honor was presented to his mother, Mary, at St Clairsville, Ohio. In 2009, Antolak’s great nephew, Cole Antolak, dedicated his Eagle Scout project to developing a monument honoring his great uncle. It is located in St. Clairesville, Ohio in Belmont County. In 2017, a section of Interstate 70 that runs through Belmont County, Ohio near Sgt. Antolak’s hometown of St. Clairsville was renamed the “Sgt. Sylvester Antolak Highway.” The section of Interstate 70 that is named the Sgt. Sylvester Antolak Highway actually is located on the property where the Antolak family home was located.



Near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy, he charged 200 yards over flat, coverless terrain to destroy an enemy machine gun nest during the second day of the offensive which broke through the German cordon of steel around the Anzio beachhead. Fully 30 yards in advance of his squad, he ran into withering enemy machine gun, machine-pistol and rifle fire. Three times he was struck by bullets and knocked to the ground, but each time, he struggled to his feet to continue his relentless advance. With one shoulder deeply gashed and his right arm shattered, he continued to rush directly into the enemy fire concentration with his submachine gun wedged under his uninjured arm until within 15 yards of the enemy strong point, where he opened fire at deadly close range, killing 2 Germans and forcing the remaining 10 to surrender. He reorganized his men and, refusing to seek the medical attention which was so badly needed, chose to lead the way toward another strong point 100 yards distant. Utterly disregarding the hail of bullets concentrated upon him, he stormed ahead nearly three-fourths of the space between strong points until he was instantly killed by hostile enemy fire.