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Donald P. Chyla Gorski
Growing up in the Polish community of Milwaukee's south side, Donald Gorski traveled to Poland at age 16 to join the Polish navy, serving in the North Atlantic on the ORP Piorun G 65 (Thunderbolt), a Polish destroyer. The Piorun was one of the first destroyers to find the German battleship Bismarck before its sinking in May 1941.
In September 1942, the Milwaukee Sentinel ran this remarkable story about his return home and his enlistment in the U.S. military.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October 2012, Gorski's son Matt talked about his father's recollections of service with the Polish navy: rolling depth charges, seasickness, concussions and headaches from shelling.
Joining the 2nd Marine Division, Gorski saw service in the South Pacific, including a tour of Nagaski after the bombing. The family believes radiation exposure may have contributed to the cancer that took his life in 1996. Gorski was buried in Wood National Cemetery with recognition for his service in the Marines, but the family believed he should also be honored for volunteering to fight for Poland before the United States had entered World War II.
Finally, on October 21, 2012, the family gathered for the dedication of a new headstone, a fitting tribute to a young man's selfless service to two nations.