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Col. Frank Mostek dies at 93 years ago

Lt. Col. Frank W. Mostek, Q/372, of Green Bay WI, died April 30, 2005, at the age of 93.

Col. Mostek took command of the 32nd on May 3, 1943, at Camp Van Dorn just as the unit was beginning the unit training phase. The 32nd was the 155-howitzer battalion of the 99th Infantry Artillery.

Mostek demanded that training be taken seriously by his officers and men in order that they be prepared for the rigors of combat. His officers were required to attend evening classes to hone their artillery skills. He personally taught many of these classes. He also insisted that cannoneers, wiremen, and others become proficient not only in their primary duties — but also in the duties of all members of their sections. This later served the battalion well in combat when gun and wire crews operated on a 24-hour basis. During gun drills and communications classes, Col. Mostek got out and supervised the training and made excellent suggestions for improvement.

By the time his battalion entered combat, his unit was extremely well-trained. In fact, his gun crews were so fast in gun drills they held their own in competition with the lighter 105 units of the division.

In combat, Mostek proved to be a superb artilleryman. Just days before the Germans launched their Ardennes offensive, his battalion had been moved well forward to support an attack by the 2nd and 99th Divisions to take the Roer Dams. Hence his battalion was vulnerable to being overrun when the German main effort of the offensive hit the 99th Division with overwhelming force on Dec. 16, 1944.

During the German artillery preparation, two of Mostek's firing batteries were accurately located by the German artillery and hit hard. Mostek coolly devised a plan to move his unit to an alternate position after dark to reduce the chance the move would be detected. He scheduled the moves of his firing batteries so that two batteries would always be in position to fire during the movement process. The plan worked beautifully and the battalion escaped with no casualties and with all its howitzers and prime-movers.

In many ways, the good training that Mostek had given his men paid off in combat. The battalion was superior in all three of the main functions of the field artillery — to move, shoot, and communicate. When faced with situations where no officers were present, the men automatically did the right thing — which was the mark of a good outfit.

Mostek proved in battle that he was not only a first-class artilleryman, but also a terrific leader of men. As a leader he was tough — but always fair. He set high standards for job performance and insisted that those standards be met. He was always concerned about the welfare of his men and he insisted that his battery commanders do likewise. He tried to keep his men informed by having his S-2 publish a daily situation report which was circulated in the battalion.

The officers and men who served under him in combat respected him and held him in highest regard. And we mourn his loss.

After the war, Mostek returned to his hometown of Green Bay WI, and was quite successful in the insurance business. He is survived by five children, 20 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

Charles P. Biggio Jr.

Col U.S.-Ret. C/372