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First Name: John

Last Name: Kozej

Birthplace: Duquesne, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Luzerne County , PA

Date of Birth: 10 January 1916

Date of Death: 30 May 1944

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served:
John Kozej

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John Kozej
Private First Class, U.S. Army

Date of Death Conflict

The U.S. Army citation for his DSC lists PFC Kozej’s date of death as 26 May 1944. In addition, a 21 July 1944 letter from the War Department's Bureau of Public Relations, Press Branch also states that he was killed on 26 May 1944. However, the American Battle Monuments Commission lists his date of death as 30 May 1944 and that date appears on his grave marker.

On 26 May 1944, Private First Class John Kozej was serving with the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Fifth U.S. Army.

On that day, PFC Kozej’s unit was in action against German forces near Nettuno, Italy, on the offensive, breaking out of the Anzio beachhead to the northeast, with the 45th Division forming the left half of the attack with VI Corps on the right. PFC Kozej, serving as 1st scout on one of the landing squads of his Company's 3rd platoon advanced through heavy enemy fire while pouring accurate fire from his submachine gun into the German position. He located an enemy machinegun 20 yards to his front, charged the nest, killed the 3 members of the gun crew and disabled the gun. As he attacked the nest, German snipers wounded him in his right leg. Despite his wounds, PFC Kozej rose and began pouring heavy fire from his submachine gun as he charged a 2nd German machinegun position and, during that action, he was killed. By single-handedly eliminating the 1st machinegun position, PFC Kozej removed the most serious threat to the platoon's advance. And his sacrifice in charging the 2nd machinegun after being wounded was a major inspiration to his platoon to capture its objective. PFC Kozej’s courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day earned him, at the cost of his life, the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

On 30 May 1944, PFC Kozej’s unit was in action against German forces near Carano, Italy

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Pin and 3 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

Private First Class John Kozej (ASN: 33056285), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 26 May 1944, near Nettuno, Italy. Private First Class Kozej's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 45th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, Fifth U.S. Army, General Orders No. 114 (July 9, 1944)


Private First Class John Kozej is buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy, in Plot E, Row 4, Grave 50.


Honoree ID: 204288   Created by: MHOH




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