Walter Polak, age 93, May 21, 2017. Beloved husband of Shirley for 71 years. Loving father of Bob (Edith), Dee, Don, Jim (Stephanie), Mary (David) Schintius, Bill (Julie) and Cheryl (David) Stout. Dear grandfather of 10, great-grandfather of 1.
Visitation Wednesday 4-8 p.m. and Thursday 1-8 p.m. with a 7 p.m. Rosary at the John N. Santeiu & Son Funeral Home, 1139 Inkster Rd., Garden City. In state Friday 9:30 a.m. followed by the 10 a.m. Funeral Service at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 26123 McDonald, Dearborn Heights.
Born and raised in Hamtramck, MI to immigrant parents Violet and John Polak. Siblings were John Polak (deceased) and Lottie Gorzelewski (deceased).
Enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940.
Served with the combat engineers building Camp Lejeune N.C., when he heard about the Corps forming a new elite unit, for which he immediately volunteered. They trained in Cuba and became the First Marine Raider Battalion (Edson Raider’s). They attacked and captured Tulagi, and went on to Guadalcanal where they were abandoned by the Navy. Wally was with a machine gun team defending Lunga Ridge, later known as Edson’s Ridge, against multiple Japanese attacks.
He was part of amphibious operations at Bougainville and New Guinea, where they attacked the Japanese rear. He was among the first Marines to occupy Japan after the surrender.
After WWII, he served in the Marine Reserves at Brodhead Naval Armory, in Detroit, until they were called up for Korea. He served as a hand-to-hand combat instructor at Camp Pendleton until he joined the 1st Marine Division in Korea.
In Korea, he fought under the command of the famous Gen. (Chesty) Puller at the Chosin Reservoir, and was in charge of a heavy weapons platoon defending the rear in the fight to Hungnam. Outside of Hungnam, he was wounded in the arm, and later, on the hospital ship, they discovered that the bible (given to him by chaplain on his arrival in Korea) held the bullet that had passed through his arm and struck the bible, cutting it in half, and wedging itself, thus saving his life.
After recovering at Great Lakes Hospital, the Marine Corps retired him.
Wally worked three jobs to send his kids to parochial school, and later worked at Zantop Airfreight as foreman and weighmaster until he retired in 1990.
Wally was an usher, for many years, at St, John’s Church in Dearborn Hts., Mi.
He enjoyed hunting, metal detecting, card games, and Mah Jong.
Historian’s note: Pfc. Walter Polak joined the 1st Marine Raider Battalion 16 March 1943 on New Caledonia and did not participate in the fighting on Guadalcanal in 1942.