By William K. Alcorn
Cyril Sedlacko who grew up in Campbell and Coitsvillewas wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.
COLUMBUS — “It is a distinct honor ... the highest honor” to be included in the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, said a former Campbell and Coitsville resident.
Cyril L. Sedlacko, 85, of Columbus, a World War II and Korean War era veteran, was inducted into the state Veterans Hall of Fame this month with 19 others during a ceremony in Columbus.
Sedlacko, of Columbus, was born at his Ohio Street home on July 3, 1924, one of nine children of Michael J. Sr. and Anna Melek Sedlacko. He lived in Campbell until age 4 when his steelworker father moved the family to a farm on Johnson Road in Coitsville Township.
After graduating in 1942 from Scienceville High School in Youngstown, he enlisted in the Army on July 19, 1943, and was assigned to the 17th Airborne Division, 513th Parachute Regiment.
“I thought the world was coming to an end when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor,” he said.
Sedlacko participated in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and early 1945 and was wounded by shrapnel from an artillery round on Jan. 7, 1945, for which he received a Purple Heart.
In a telephone interview, Sedlacko said when he heard the round coming in, he raised his hands and arms to protect his face and was wounded in his hands and left arm.
“They patched me up and sent me back to my unit,” he said.
Sedlacko also received the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Parachutist Wings with Bronze Star, among numerous other military decorations.
In March, the 17th Division along with the British 6th Airborne Division, parachuted into Germany near the city of Wesel, secured a bridge and then spearheaded the assault on Munster, Germany. He eventually became part of the U.S. occupation force in Oberhausen, Germany, and was discharged from active duty as a staff sergeant on Dec. 8, 1945.
He returned to the Youngstown area and worked at Truscon Steel and as a part-time farmer. He served in several Ohio National Guard units, starting in 1949 with Charlie Co. of the 135th Field Artillery, 37th Division, in Youngstown, which was activated in 1951 during the Korean War and served as a training division at Fort Polk, La.
Sedlacko, making the guard a career, rose through the ranks and was promoted to colonel in 1974 when he was named the state recruiting and retention officer for the Ohio National Guard. After retiring from the guard, he became a investigator in the state Department of Commerce and later was an administrative assistant to the state fire marshal.
Since retiring for the second time in 1994, he has been active in the 37th Division Veterans Association, of which is he is secretary/treasurer and a past president.
As secretary, he has assisted widows and family members with military burial arrangements and aided in the reintegration of National Guard troops returning home from overseas deployments.
“The most important calls I get are from grandchildren who ask me, ‘What did my grandfather do during the war.’ I help them find out,” he said.
“Everything I have I attribute to joining the 37th Division in Youngstown,” Sedlacko said.
Sedlacko is a member of the National Guard Association, AMVETS, the American Legion, the Catholic War Veterans, the Disabled American Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Several of his brothers also served in the military. Paul, a Marine Corps pilot during World War II, was killed during a training mission at Jacksonville, Fla., Air Station; Michael Jr. of Portsmouth, Va., served in the Navy during WWII; Victor, of Massillon, served in the Army in the Korean War; and David, of Girard, served in the Guard in the 1950s and 1960s.
A sister, Agnes Lisko, lives in Struthers. His brother, Carl, and sisters, Kathrine and Anna Sedlacko, are deceased.
Sedlacko was also involved in community affairs while in the Youngstown area in the 1950s and 1960s. He was National Guard liaison officer with the Youngstown Mayor’s Emergency Operations Center and organized the first Muster Day dance at Idora Park, established to recognize employers who were supportive of the Guard. He was also instrumental in getting a law passed that provides free college tuition those who enlist for at least six years in the Ohio Guard.
Sedlacko and his wife, the former Jacqueline Bingham, have two children: Mandy Oberyszyn of Powell, Ohio, who is executive secretary of the 37th Division Veterans Association, and Molly Woodruff of Westerville; and three grandchildren.
Two other Mahoning Valley veterans were members of the hall’s Class of 2009. Herbert W. Seelbach of Girard and Robert H. Brothers of Howland, veterans of World War II and the Korean War, respectively, were inducted in ceremonies in Columbus on Veterans Day.
The Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame was created by former Governor George V. Voinovich in 1992 to demonstrate his concern for Ohio veterans returning home due to military downsizing as a result of the end of the Cold War.. It is designed to increase awareness of the lifetime contributions of Oho veterans after completion of honorable military service.