Wednesday, September 7, 2016

PFC Steven Smerko

PFC Steven Smerko was born 22 Mar 1914 in Chicago, Illinois. Born as Stephan Szmyrko, he was the 2nd son of Joseph and Sophie (Horodyski) Smerko. Both parents were natives of what is now Poland but originally Ukrainian. The family name, was like those of many immigrants, simplified in spelling. Sophie died in 1929 and Steven and his older brother went to live with their Aunt Anna Smerko Duniec and her husband and were still living with them in 1940. Joseph did remarry but apparently did not bring the boys to live with him. Steven was working in a wholesale donut shop, perhaps donuts were a welcome bonus to his reported 1939 income of $780. He and his brother were supporting his aunt and uncle. When he registered for the draft later in 1940 he was apparently working for the Amling Company, a wholesale florist as was his brother.  Steven married Rita Theresa Schiavone in September 1941.

Steven was probably drafted in late 1943 or early 1944. After his basic military training he was sent to the European theater and from there to a replacement depot. PVT Smerko was transferred from the replacement depot to I Company 116th Infantry on 7 Aug 1944 to serve as a rifleman. The regiment was then moved to liberate Brest, France and in the fighting on the approach recently promoted PFC Smerko was killed in action on 7 Sep 1944.

PFC Smerko is buried with many other soldiers of the 116th in the Brittany American Cemetery.

Brother Anthony also served in the U.S. Army during the war. Rita and Steven had no children.

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