NEW CASTLE —
Life’s been a fascinating ride for Theodore “Ted” Adamczyk, one of Lawrence County’s most decorated World War II veterans.
In dire circumstances, where death was often in the air, Adamczyk responded with a confidence and calmness that inspired those around him.
At age 93, the former Army Air corpsman continues to display those characteristics today along with a wry sense of humor.
A self-taught musician who performed live on New Castle’s first radio station in 1938, Adamczyk proved a few years later that he was as good at handling a machine gun in a B-17 Bomber as he was a fiddle.
The military credits Adamczyk with 195 official missions, mostly troop support, but he said there were many more.
Recipient of several medals, including the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross, Adamczyk decided to leave a record for family so he wrote his memoirs, titled “The Way It Was,” to detail his exploits and provide answers to any questions they might have.
OFF TO WAR
Four weeks after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Adamczyk departed for the Far East, flying on a B-17 with seven others to Brazil, across the Atlantic to Sierra Leone, Africa; across the Sahara Desert; up the Nile Valley to Cairo; across Arabia to Bangalore, India; and on to the East Indies Island of Java, where HE joined others on an aircraft in an attempt to stop the Japanese advance to Australia.
On Feb. 3, 1942, Adamczyk and company set out on their third mission, confronting a fleet of enemy warships off Borneo. After dropping four, 600-pound bombs on freighters 25,000 feet below, the six U.S. planes turned for home. But soon they were engaged by a single Japanese warplane.
Operating the waist guns, Adamczyk exchanged fire with a daring pilot, who was in full attack mode despite being vastly outnumbered.
“I’d love to say we blew him out of the sky,” Adamczyk said. “We may have hit him, but he seemed to be in control even as his aircraft spiraled downward and disappeared.”
Years later, Adamczyk read a book titled “Zero,” written by Japan’s legendary flying ace Saburo Sakai, who described how he single-handedly attacked six American B-17s in the Southwest Pacific.
“It must have been him,” Adamczyk said of the aerial battle.