Friends, family and community members recently came together to celebrate the 100th birthday of World War II veteran and Park Place of Elmhurst resident, Sergeant Fae Gedz.
Mrs. Gedz was born on June 12, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois and was raised in Maywood, where she attended Proviso Township High School. After high school, she was troubled by the turbulence of rising tensions in Europe, but motivated by the strong patriotism of her community and eager to do her part in the World War II war effort. “I knew I had to get in there and do my part,” she remembers.
She enlisted in the newly-formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and was assigned to the Ordnance Department, the division responsible for supplying weapons and ammunition to combat troops. She was deployed overseas early in 1943, and served at Allied Force Headquarters in Algiers, North Africa, under General Eisenhower in the United States Fifth Army.
After completion of the North African Campaign, her next assignment was to Headquarters in Caserta, Italy, where she was never far from the battle front. There she witnessed the Bombing of Monte Cassino as well as the Allies liberation of Rome on June 5, 1944. Soon thereafter, her small unit of WACs received a private audience with Pope Pius XII as gratitude for their efforts.
After returning to the States, Sergeant Gedz continued to serve in Army Recruitment, which led her to meet her future husband, John, an airman, and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service as rear-gunner aboard a B-24 Bomber. The two were married in 1946 and had five children. “Mom and Dad were always very patriotic,” remembers her son, Paul. “My parents always remembered every flag holiday, and proudly displayed their flag.”
Today, Gedz is a resident at Park Place of Elmhurst. In honor of her centennial birthday, the staff and her friends at Park Place collected over 100 birthday cards from well-wishers.