Honoring Our Veterans: Paul Kolasci Jr.

Paul Kolasci Jr.

BRYAN, Texas — At 94 years old, Paul Kolasci Jr. wishes he could still be serving his country.

"I wish I was young enough to be in the Persian Gulf right now," Kolasci said.

Kolasci served in the Navy for 26 1/2 years with active service in three conflicts: World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

"I can't explain it to you," Kolasci said. "I loved being in the Navy, and it's too bad I got out."

The reason for leaving had to do with Kolasci's son, Paul III. He was in the Army, and was also headed for serving in the Vietnam War. Kolasci said he knew his wife would have a hard time having them both there, so he retired as senior chief petty officer.

Kolasci is a first-generation American; his family emigrated from Poland. He said his family was as "poor as church mice," so when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he knew he had to serve. He heard the news on Dec. 7, 1941, while at a movie. During the intermission, when Paul Whiteman and Orchestra was playing, the music stopped for the Pearl Harbor announcement.

"I said to myself, 'Oh, I guess I'm getting into the military,'" Kolasci said.

He said he wanted to join the Navy that year in Ohio, when he was 17 years old. When recruiters asked his age, he said he was 18. When they required him to bring in a statement from his parents saying he was 18, his parents refused to sign it. He had to wait another year.

Kolasci said he doesn't remember much about the war. He enlisted as an apprentice seaman and his duties consisted of bombarding enemy routes.

"I visited so many ports in my career that I don't remember them," he said. "I didn't think it was important to remember certain things. I served time in Europe, in Italy, then came to the Pacific and served time in the South Pacific."

The only thing that mattered to him during the three wars, Kolasci said, was serving his country and coming home to his family.

"When you're serving aboard ship, it's all the same; it didn't matter," he said. "I never did anything heroic. All I did was serve my country."

Even if in real danger, Kolasci said he never feared.

"You don't have any fear; you don't even think about it," he said. "You overcome that; it's not on your mind. If it's on your mind, then you're in trouble, it's just part of the service."

Another major part of Kolasci's service was serving as a court stenographer in California. Kolasci had attended stenographer school in San Diego in 1946, and attended the Naval Justice School in Port Hueneme, California in 1947.

After retirement from the Navy in 1968. Kolasci went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in Beeville. He then went to work at the Naval Air Station Chase Field in Beeville as a military support division officer, and retired from that in 1986 after 18 years.

Kolasci gives credit to his late wife, Thelma, for doing a great job raising their two children. They were married for almost 65 years. Kolasci's daughter, Patti Wade, said he is humble about his service, and notes that there were always military men and women in their home during the holidays because they could not go home to their families. Kolasci still keeps in touch with many of the men and women that served with him.

"I'm proud of my dad and proud of what he did for his country," Wade said. "How could any words explain the worthiness of any soldier? Every soldier should be recognized and held with highest admiration. They give their life for our country and gave up family time to serve a country that my dad, at 94, still holds the highest respect for. After all, he is my dad."

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