During World War II, Cpl. Walter S. Mietus saw 110 days of combat during the course of three campaigns: Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and central Europe. By the time he and his unit had pushed into Germany, they’d covered over 400 miles on foot, slogging through mud and snow.
For his service, he earned the Combat Medical Badge and the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars. The unit to which he was assigned was recognized with the Presidential Unit Citation for their extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy. In addition, Walter was the recipient of the Army of Occupation Medal, American Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal. His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal and Army Good Conduct Medal. As a sharpshooter, Walter also wore the Army Marksmanship Qualification Badge—Sharpshooter with three qualification clasps: Browning Automatic Rifle, carbine and rifle.
Walter was born in Mosinee, Wis., and raised in a Chicago Polish Catholic ghetto known as “The Back of the Yards.” In 1943, after completing basic training, he transferred to the Army Air Corps cadet training program and earned his “wings” after completing preflight training. However, his dream of becoming a pilot and a commissioned officer were quickly dashed. Because of the infantry’s needs, his entire cadet class became a part of General Patton’s 3rd Army.
Walter married Angela Bertellotti in 1962. They met during his doctoral studies at Loyola University of Chicago, where she was pursuing a master’s degree. The two would find their way to Maryland, where Walter became a University of Maryland faculty member.
Dr. Mietus was an inspiring mentor and role model to his students, family and friends. Prior to retirement, he headed the committee to set up the 76th Infantry Division Scholarship at the University of Maryland. His technical skills were called upon when he designed and fabricated the 76th Infantry Division Memorial Plaque, which he presented in a formal ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, and which is on display in Memorial Hall at the Tomb.
Details of Walter’s World War II personal experiences can be found in his 800-page unpublished book manuscript titled “From the Heights to the Depths,” edited by Lynn Mrzygod.
Acknowledgements: Photo by Yuri Kerrins. Content for this story was extracted from “Dr. Walter S. and Angela M. Mietus Legacy” authored by Marian Patricoski.