Monday, August 25, 2014

"Kanal," screening at the Niles Public Library (IL)

Sun., Sept. 7, 2-3:30pm 
 Registration required
Not rated, 96 min.
 In observance of the 70th anniversary of the heroic 63-day Warsaw Uprising during World War II, the library screens the 1957 award-winning Polish film, directed by Andrzej Wajda and shown with English subtitles. The Niles high school film instructor, Tom Rajewski Herman, introduces Kanal and leads the post-film discussion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A new illustrated First World War One website was launched

recently by the Illustrated London News Ltd (ILN) featuring  archive material from the Illustrated London News - said to be  the world's first illustrated magazine. The site  presents  digitized pages from the Illustrated London News 1914-1918 and seven other  publications; a wealth of editorial features providing context for the source material; a timeline; a range of topics from “Animals and War” and “Trench Life” to “Sport and the War”; and a blog  by young historians appointed for the project.

Here is a fascinating image depicting Russia's fighting women drawn by Fortunino Matania, Italian artist, illustrator and war reporter. More can be read about Maria Bochkareva and the Battalion of Death at

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Can't I Find My Uncle's US World War II Military Record of Service?

The official  answer to this common question is provided by the website of the National Personnel Records Center.

41 years ago on July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the National PersonnelRecords Center (NPRC) destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). The records affected were:

Personnel and Period Affected
Estimated Loss
Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960
Air Force
Personnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964
(with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)
and some U.S. Army Reserve personnel who performed their initial active duty for training in the late 1950s but who received final discharge as late 1964.
There were no losses to the records of Navy and Marine Corps military records.
The NPRC web page also  has  helpful links in the left-hand  column for Requesting Military Records and for Genealogy which will connect to an informative article: Genealogy Research in Military Records.

In addition, one's local library may subscribe to the  Library  Edition which links to an  Ancestry Anne blog entry  which lists available collections of American military records and explains why one's relative may not yet show up in World War II Draft Registration cards.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

AMVETS Donation Drop-offs in Chicago Area

Nearest drop-off for Niles is located at the Kmart  West 
in Des Plaines at the Oakton/Lee intersection.

Hometown Hero Matthew F. Wojtasek Sr.

World War II veteran and Niles resident, Mr. Wojtasek is fittingly accorded the red carpet treatment at the Chicago Wolves home game  against the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday afternoon, December 29, 2014. Mr. Wojtaszek can also be seen with the Wolves mascot. As a member of the 82nd Airborne Mr Wojtaszek participated in the D-Day invasion as well as the invasion of Sicily and the Battle of the Bulge.

Mr. Wojtaszek always participates in the annual Memorial Day Observance held by the Niles VFW Post 7712 and is also a participant in the Veterans History Project.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day Observance, Niles IL, May 26, 2014

Panoramic photo shows the line-up of civic officials facing the audience as everyone listens to Mayor Andrew Przybylo's remarks  honoring  the fallen at the Niles Veterans Memorial Waterfall.

Commander James Kozak looks on from the left and the taller Friends of the Niles Library President and Village trustee Chris Hanusiak stands 3rd to the right from the Mayor. In addition to the other members of the Niles VFW Post 7712 present, the dignitaries visible include Village Trustees Rosemary Palicki, John  Jekot,  Dannette O'Donovan Matyas, (also a Library Board Trustee), Joe LaVerde, George Alpogianis,  Niles Village Manager Steve Vinezeano, and Deputy Police Chief Vincenzo Genualdi.

The Niles VFW Post 7712 Members, Ted Szewc and Tom Davidson, stand before the flagpole and plaque at the Niles Veterans Memorial Waterfall after the well-attended Annual Memorial Day Observance.

Marker just west of Niles Veterans Memorial Waterfall identifying  former location of St. Hedwig's orphanage and its successor buildings. The waterfall is located at the southwest corner of the Milwaukee and Touhy intersection in Niles, Illinois.

Monday, May 12, 2014

"D-Day," the Annual May, 2014 Memorial Day Exhibit at the Library

The library’s annual May display to honor our local veterans and highlight the local Veteran’s History Project was initiated by Battle of the Bulge veteran, Al Aronson, of the US

28th Infantry Division or the “Keystone”/Bucket of Blood Division  in 2009.  Mr. Aronson’s interview transcript is available along with those of 52 other heroes in the 3rd floor Reference Department and via the library’s website . This year’s exhibit focuses on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. The library acknowledges the informed generosity of Niles resident and veteran Ralph Ponfil who donated the German war artifacts.  This year’s exhibit again benefits greatly from the contributions of Niles resident Chris Reuscher who has shared appropriate uniforms from his extensive collection which is detailed on a most helpful website .
3 VHP participants who have recorded their memoirs of service through the Niles Public Library took part in the Normandy Invasion: Max Kolpas (Wood Dale), Walter Tymczuk (Niles) and Matthew Wojtaszek (Niles). All served in the US Army.