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Brightwood Boys, The History of the Men from the North End of
Springfield, Massachusetts, During World War II
by Christopher P. Montagna



In July 1944, children and families returning from a day at Calhoun Park may have missed the gold star flag hanging in the window of 37 Calhoun Street. The home belonged to Albert and Minnie Katz. Albert was a baker at Daum's Bakery. Their son, Bernard Katz was born in Bailystock, Poland and immigrated to the United States with them when he was one month old. On December 7, 1942, the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor, twenty-year old Bernard enlisted in the Marine Corps.


Prior to joining the Marines, Bernard Katz was employed as a truck driver for a local wholesale produce vendor. After basic training, Bernard was assigned to the Marine Barracks at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He was transferred to the 37th Replacement Battalion on December 31, 1943, where he was eventually assigned as a rifleman to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Bernard Katz embarked a troopship on January 12, 1944 for the Pacific Theater of Operations.


On July 21, 1944, the 3rd Marine Division landed on the Marianas Island of Guam near Agana to the north of Orote. Participating in the landing that morning was Chet Sadowski and another Springfield resident, John Bogush. Also landing was Marine Pfc. Bernard Katz. Katz was with the first wave of the 3rd Marine Division as it hit the beach.


The following is Chet Sadowski's description of the assault on Guam:


"We landed on Guam H plus 20 (twenty minutes after the first wave). I was on the tenth wave 400 yards from the beach ... driving a half track and the water was under my arm pits. I landed on the beach before my engine shorted out and couldn't move. I was on the on the beach at 7:30 am. "


Two hours into the battle, at 9:00 am, a Japanese grenade exploded in front of Bernard Katz, multiple fragments of shrapnel hit Pfc. Katz killing him instantly.


As Chet recalled, "I lived my life 100 times between that time and when the sun went down. We used a tank [for] pill box busting, perimeter security and anti-tank on the front lines. There was no such thing as sleep".


The following article appeared in the Springfield newspaper recounting Chet Sadowski's and John Bogush's experience on Guam:


Springfield Newspaper Article: Corps. John Bogush and John SadowskiThe heroism of two Springfield boys who took part in the invasion of Guam is described in a letter just reaching Mr. And Mrs. Alfred Bogush of 10th Street from Pfc. Bill McGraw, a marine buddy of their son, John who is still fighting in the South Pacific. McGraw, now in the country and stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC describes one of the bad encounters in which John and Chet Sadowski of Orchard Street, Springfield, took part. The letter gives a vivid picture of the fighting on Guam. Says Pfc. McGraw:


I left Guam the first of this month after finishing the campaign. There with your son, John Bogush and Chet Sadowski. We left the States together and were very close buddies through everything. John is the best mechanic we've had in our halftrack outfit. We were very lucky to keep him with us when we were transferred from B battery to the regimental weapons company. When we hit Guam it was some job keeping our four badly beaten half tracks ready for action. John was supposed to carry out only his own job, but so many men were hit in the landing that he was compelled to fight as well as maintain the vehicles. He did a great job. One half track was blown up the first day by a land mine, leaving three. John spent the campaign with that Chet and I were on.


We went on all the bad missions and in two of our worst encounters we were the only crew to get into the fight. One afternoon we were ordered to the aid of a company of infantry in a very dire distress. It was an awful mess we got into, and we didn't get to dig in until after dark. Japs were in our camp all night. The next morning we looked at our battlefield of the previous evening and estimated that there were over 100 dead Japs on the hill where we had been the sole destroyers. The tree of us, John, Chet and I dug in together every night. We were the only survivors from our crew that weren't evacuated by the time the island was secured.


John was a valuable man. He repaired and put to use a Jap tractor for hauling our supplies. He picked up a Jap blowtorch and fixed it and furnished fire for hot food and he was a hard worker, always quick to act when we got a chance to dig in for the night.


I am very anxious for him and Chet to get back. I plan to visit them in Springfield at the earliest opportunity.


Very Sincerely,




Some forty years later Chet Sadowski would reminisce about his experiences, "As I think of it, I can't believe what I went through until now. As I am writing this down, I never really gave it a thought".