New Castle News


November 12, 2012

Veterans Day 2012: Local veteran recalls World War II events

NEW CASTLE — Two freedom-loving boys who survived in concentration camps are among the memories of World War II veteran Al Padula.

Now 86 years old, Al Padula of Pearl Street was only 18 when he went to war, and one of the youngest in his outfit, the 278th Field Artillery Battalion. The unit saw action in France, Germany and Belgium, and was one of the first to enter the Dachau concentration camp and extermination center outside Munich.

That is how he got to know Walter and Bill Plywaski, two Jewish boys who escaped from the Dachau-Karlsfeld sub-camp about 10 miles from Munich in April 1945, days before the camp was liberated.

The youngsters, then 15 and 16, crawled through the camp’s barbed wire enclosure as the Allies shelled the area and the SS guards ran and hid, according to Walter Plywaski. Now 83 years old, Walter lives in Boulder, Colo. He is the father of three daughters and grandfather of five.

Born in  Lodz, Poland, in 1929, Walter, formerly Wladyslaw Plywacki, survived the urban concentration camp of Lodz Ghetto, the Auschwitz death camp and the concentration camp of Dachau. His adopted brother Bill, is actually his cousin.

Born Wlodzimier Fialko, he is now William Plywaski who also lives in Boulder. When Bill’s  parents died of tuberculosis in the Lodz Ghetto, Walter’s father adopted him, making the boys brothers.

Padula, who has stayed in touch with Walter over the years, was touched by a recent letter from his “young” friend who thanks the American soldiers who “in grimy helmets and uniforms who in that unforgettable spring of 1945 brought life’s early light into the barbed wire hells of Germany.”

“These men, landing on Normandy’s bloody beaches, poured freedom from the muzzles of their guns for my brother, all our concentration camp comrades and me.”

He notes that the Americans and other Allies “transformed us from those about to die like vermin to men preparing to live again.”

The young Polish boys became the “mascots” of Padula’s unit. They were generally cared for by a Polish-speaking sergeant from Chicago and traveling with the unit from May 1945 to May 1947. The brothers came to America, arriving at Ellis Island on Dec. 16, 1947.

Walter graduated from Oregon State University as an electrical engineer. In 1962, he moved to Boulder to join the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.

In September 2010, Walter lost his home and all of his possessions in the Fourmile Canyon fire that devoured the Boulder foothills.

“I think of those boys often,” Padula said. “They were smart. Walter spoke five languages. Of course, none of them was English when I first knew him.”

He adds, “They came here, knowing no one, and made a good life for themselves here.”



Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Shenango1.jpg Shenango Township: Supervisors fire Tanner, release DeLorenzo

    The Shenango supervisors fired township secretary/treasurer Brian Tanner and terminated auditor and consultant Deno DeLorenzo last night.

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos 4 Stories

  • gavel.jpg Shenango to take action on Tanner, DeLorenzo

    Shenango’s supervisors will act Thursday night on the employment contracts of two men being investigated for possible theft of township funds.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • money.jpg Shenango computers, financial papers seized

    Investigators have seized computers and a host of financial paperwork from the Shenango Township Municipal Building.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

House Ads

The Steelers opened training camp this weekend. How do you see them faring this season?

Super Bowl
Division champs
Wild card team
Missing playoffs for a third straight year
     View Results