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PFC Victor Kostiw
B company, 410th Regiment,
103rd Cactus Division

PFC Victor Kostiw

PFC Victor Kostiw

The 103rd went into combat in November of 1944 near S. Die, France. Vic was a 30 cal. machine gunner with B company of the 410th Infantry Regiment. Once in combat, he was never happy with the tripod so he adapted the “Rambo”style. He used a heavy asbestos mitten to hang onto the barrel and shot from the hip. Combat was sporadic he said, but there were plenty of times when the Germans stood there ground. Artillery shelling and mortar fire was also something that was a common accurance. One particular shelling was very heavy and he was knocked unconscious. He came to, half buried under the side of a jeep with a telephone pole right on top of the vehicle. He stated that if the jeep had not been there, the pole would have crushed him. He also took a piece of shrapnel in the forehead on that occasion, but he insisted on staying with his unit.

PFC Victor Kostiw - Click to enlarge

PFC Victor Kostiw – Click to enlarge

Vic won the Silver Star in March, 1945 near Gundershoffen, France when he outflanked an 88 gun crew and captured them. His award document states that it was a machine gun crew, but Vic told me it was an 88 gun crew. After the capture, Vic took a camera one of the gun crew members was carrying and used it for the next couple of weeks taking pictures along the way of their advance. When he had the pictures developed, there were pictures of the German gun crew that he captured in the developed film.

Vic told me of another time when he saw a captured SS officer being marched down the street towards HQ for interrogation. He said the officer was smug when confronted, and Vic relieved him of his Iron Cross 1st class (which I have) and gave him a boot in the ass to send him on his way.

Machine gun crew copyThe 103rd ended up in Innsbruck at the end of the war. When they went into the German HQs when taking the town, Vic captured three more German soldiers. He had them raise their hands, and one of them made a move for a bureau drawer near by. Vic let loose a burst over his head and the German wisely changed his mind. He checked out the drawer and found a P-38 pistol and a Russian Front medal which he gave to me.
Vic passed away May 28, 2009.