John B. Stefanek was born the 4th of 9 children on August 24, 1919, in Cleveland. Ohio. He graduated from Benedictine Catholic High School in Cleveland in 1937. He was the first recipient of an award given for excellence in sports - an award he was very proud of.
He went to the Naval recruiting station to support a friend and give him courage. The friend was rejected because he had four molars missing. The Navy encouraged John to take the test - just for the heck of it! John was a sailor! He enlisted on April 19, 1939. The day John left, a Boston baseball farm contract arrived at the house. However, the Navy had him. He spent boot camp in Great Lakes. Illinois.
He would have liked to have been a pilot; however, this was unlikely as he was not an officer. He served aboard the USS Houston effective October 3, 1940. He played baseball for the USS Houston. He hit a home run in the same ballpark in Manila as Babe Ruth did.
He spent 42 months as a Japanese Prisoner of War. He, along with two other prisoners, prayed the rosary every day. He attributed his coming home to the daily masses, prayers and love of his mother. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy on May 19, 1946, as a Chief Boatswain's Mate.
He married Irma Kovacs on June 22, 1946. Their daughter Jane was born on June 2, 1947. He worked as a tile setter in Cleveland for more than 40 years. He received many awards for excellence in his tile setting. He died on May 18, 2000, at the age of 80 years. He was laid to rest on May 25, 2000, at Arlington National Cemetery. He loved his family and the Navy. He was a deeply religious man. He was a humble man who never bragged about himself.
These brave men and women risk their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
If you have a loved who has served or is currently serving in the armed forces, and feel they should be profiled as a Wednesday Hero, I would be proud to do it. Just email me with some info and a photo.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look
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