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Westmoreland

Korean War hero shared little about his service, including his Bronze Star

Rich Cholodofsky
| Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, 4:42 p.m.

James Misiak didn’t talk much about his experience serving as a Marine during the Korean War.

It wasn’t until his death that his children learned their father was a war hero, having been awarded a Bronze Star for his life-saving action during an enemy incursion near the Pyongyang/Seoul corridor in June 1953.

“I was totally in awe when I found out. He never told us about it,” said his daughter, Andrea Ansell.

James J. “Pony” Misiak died Nov. 30, at home. He was 89.

Mr. Misiak was born Oct. 29, 1929, in Standard, a village in Mt. Pleasant Township, the son of the late Andrew and Mary Blaszowski Misiak.

Family members said they recently learned their father was presented with the Bronze Star for actions while assigned to H Company, the 3rd Battalion of First Marine Division when Mr. Misiak’s platoon was ordered to attack a heavily reinforced enemy position and were pinned down as they attempted to counter a major Chinese offensive.

Ansell said according to military documentation, Marines advanced through intense enemy mortar and machine gun fire and were pinned down as they faced automatic weapon and small arms fire. Mr. Misiak, a corporal who served as an automatic rifleman, moved to the front of the platoon, and on his own initiative, led comrades through enemy fire and discovered the bunkers from which the attack originated.

With disregard for his safety he rushed these positions, firing his weapon from the hip, and killed the enemy occupants, Ansell said.

Mr. Misiak returned home from the war and had to care for his four children after his first wife passed away in 1962.

“He was a great family man, and he cared about everyone,” said his son, Barry Misiak.

Mr. Misiak was known as Pony throughout his life.

“He was born during the depression years. His family had no money, and he would take a broom stick and run around. The adults gave him the name ‘Pony,’ and it stuck with him ever since,” Barry Misiak said.

Mr. Misiak worked at the H.C. Frick Coal Co. and Eidemiller construction and served 21 years as a bolt maker for Modulas Corp in Mt. Pleasant. He also worked 10 years before retirement as a receiver for County Market at Crossroads Plaza.

Family members said that throughout his life, Mr. Misiak focused on helping others. They recalled one incident when a small colt that had gone missing from his son’s farm.

“He had come home from work and found the colt fell down an old mine. He had kids tie a rope to his legs and they lowered him into the shaft to pull out the colt,” Barry Misiak said.

Mr. Misiak was preceded in death by his, first wife, Geraldine Louise Roman Misiak; and brother, Vincent Misiak.

Mr. Misiak is survived by his second wife, Dorothy Glowacki Misiak, whom he married Jan. 4, 1964; his children, Andrea Ansell and husband Frank, of McClure; Eileen Frisby and husband Will, of Amity, Maine; Barry Misiak and wife Susan, of North Carolina; and Melinda Prescott and husband William, of Dunbar. He is also survived by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Friends will be received Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Frank Kapr Funeral Home Inc., 417 Pittsburgh St., Scottdale. Prayers of transfer will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the funeral home, with a funeral Mass to follow in the Partner Parish of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Scottdale, with the Rev. Richard Kosisko as celebrant. Committal services and interment will follow in St. Joseph Parish Cemetery, Everson. Mt. Pleasant American Legion Post will conduct full military honors at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials be made to Shriners Hospital for Children , 1645 W. Eighth St., Erie, PA 16505, or St. Jude Research Hospital, 600 Waterfront Drive, No. 210, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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