Joseph Olszewski, Decorated Veteran

Sept. 23, 1922 - May 12, 2015
Joseph Olszewski, Sept. 23, 1922 - May 12, 2015

Joseph John Olszewski Sr., a decorated naval veteran of World War II who worked as a crane operator for the Bistrian Gravel Company in East Hampton for 40 years, died on May 12 at Stony Brook University Hospital where he had undergone emergency heart surgery. He was 92.

 Mr. Olszewski’s son, Roy, said his father’s sense of patriotic duty had stayed with him all his life. He had tried to enlist when he was 17 as it became obvious the nation was headed to war, but his mother refused to sign the required papers, putting off his enlistment until 1942 when he turned 18. He was stationed on the U.S.S. Ancon, a former ocean liner converted into a troop transport and command and communications center, and was immediately thrust into action.

 In November of that year, the Ancon was part of the allied invasion of North Africa. After disembarking troops, the Ancon took on others who had been on four nearby transport ships that were sunk by Axis forces. The Ancon made a second trip to North Africa a couple of months later before becoming the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet’s amphibious forces and playing a key role in the invasion of Italy and the Omaha Beach invasion of Normandy. The ship was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet, where she took part in the invasion of Okinawa and the liberation of the Philippines.

During the war, Petty Officer Olszewski was reunited in England with his brother, Edward Olszewski, who was in the army and had been wounded in action. He was awarded the Purple Heart but was later killed during the Battle of the Bulge.

 Serving as a boatswain’s mate, Petty Officer First Class Olszewski received the Four Star American Theater, European African Middle East Campaign, Philippine Liberation, the Victory, and the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbons.

 He was born to Walter Olszewski and the former Rose Kwitkowski on Sept. 23, 1922, in Sag Harbor, where he grew up. After returning from the war, he married the former Lucy Repenski on  Oct. 4, 1947. She survives.

 In the 1950s, Mr. Olszewski built a house on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton, where his son, Roy, still lives. The couple had another son, Joseph Olszewski Jr., who died recently, and a daughter, Ellen Kenny of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., who survives.

  An outdoorsman and member of the Maidstone Gun Club for 50 years, Mr. Olszewski loved hunting, fishing, and skeet shooting. He was a golfer, taking to the links well into his 80s, and he enjoyed music. Most of all, his son said his father loved spending time with his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren survive, as does a brother, John Olszewski of Saratoga Springs.

Mr. Olszewski was a religious man and an active member of the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton, where the Rev. Msgr. Donald Hanson officiated at a funeral Mass last Friday. He was buried in the church cemetery on Cedar Street.