South Bend, Indiana
|Died||January 10, 1945†
(aged 21) |
|Place of burial||Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942-1945|
|Rank||Private First Class|
|Unit||Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division|
Private First Class Alex M. Penkala, Jr. (1924 - January 10, 1945) was a paratrooper with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Penkala was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Tim Matthews. Penkala's life story was featured in the 2010 book A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us.
Penkala was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1924. His parents emigrated to the US from Poland in 1907. He had 12 brothers and sisters. His mother died when she had her thirteenth child, and Alex's sister, Irene, looked after Alex and the others. He dropped out of high school during his sophomore year. Enlisting in the army on February 27, 1942 at Toledo, Ohio, he became a cook. He volunteered for the paratroops of the United States Army, after his friends in the cook school told him about the unit.
In August 1942 after training in Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Penkala made his first combat jump on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) as part of Operation Overlord. In September 1944, he jumped into the occupied Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden, which eventually failed. After being pulled off the line, Easy Company returned to France, where they were transported to Bastogne, Belgium to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. Alex Penkala was killed in action, just outside the Belgian town of Foy, by fire from German artillery. His friend Sergeant Warren "Skip" Muck was in the same foxhole at the time and was also killed. Penkala is buried at the American cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg.
|Presidential Unit Citation with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster|
|Good Conduct Medal|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrow device|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|French Liberation Medal|
|Belgian World War II Service Medal|
|Combat Infantryman Badge|
|Parachutist Badge with 2 jump stars|
- Boule, Margie (2002-04-11). "Story of brother killed in World War II isn't just Hollywood's". Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- WWII Army Enlistment Records: on-line NARA Archival Database
- A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us
- Ambrose, p.204.
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6.