News: Neillsville – Am. Legion Honors Greg Sromek (May 2018)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Surnames: Sromek, Hendzel
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark, Co) 5/09/2018
American Legion Honors Neillsville Veteran (Military Service – 2018)
By Scott Schultz
Greg Sromek is the most recent veteran being honored, by the Neillsville American Legion Post 73.
Sromek was born and raised on a farm near Gilman. He attended Gilman School, graduating in 1965.
After graduation, he went to Chicago and worked in a steel manufacturing plant, sending specialty items out by United Parcel Service.
His father, brothers and his mother’s brothers served during World War II; Sromek felt it was his duty to join.
He volunteered in 1966, and went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO, for basic training and advanced individual training in tactical field wire communications. Training included climbing poles, laying wire on the ground, cryptic communications and carrying a 25-pound radio on his back.
Sromek said he volunteered to go to Vietnam, which didn’t make any difference, because his whole class was sent. He was assigned to the First Infantry Division’s Second Battalion, 16th Regiment Rangers stationed in Dian, and later to Lai Khe, War Zone C Iron Triangle about 40 miles north of Saigon.
For three weeks, he was put on top of the highest hill. He operated a relay station for all communications from his battalion back to his brigade headquarters. Requests were for clothing, c-rations, ammunition and personnel.
Green Berets were on that hill, so he received some hot meals from them – eating three times a day.
After that assignment, he was the radio operator for the battalion commanders. He was on search-and-destroy missions, leaving base-camp at 10 p.m. and walking 4-5 miles in the dark to surround a village.
The missions were done in all weather conditions. Sromek said they stayed for a couple of weeks, finding hidden weapons and stockpiled rice for the Viet Cong. Choppers took them back to camp, where they got ready for the next mission.
After his Vietnam tour was over, he was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, with the Second Armored Division. There, he was the company clerk in an air-conditioned office because he could type.
Everyone else was on maneuvers due to the riots in Chicago and Detroit, he said.
Sromek received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Air Medal and the Bronze Star.
He was discharged in September of 1968 with the rank of Specialist-5.
Sromek then went back to Chicago and worked with Bell Telephone Company.
He married Jean Hendzel from Gilman, in 1969. The left Chicago and moved to Neillsville, where he worked with Telephone-Data Systems for 25 years until retirement.
Sromek has children Lisa and Greg, and grandchildren: Ethan, Atom, Aurora and Orion. Jean passed away in 2015.
The honoree said his hobbies are hunting and fishing. He has a pond behind his house and a beach for his grandchildren.
He also collects donations for the stocking of the trout ponds in Neillsville and Granton.
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