Future generations of the families of Amsterdam veterans who made the supreme sacrifice for their Country during World War II will forever be grateful to the late Bob Going for painstakingly compiling and so eloquently chronicling the stories of their ancestor heroes. Knowing the effort I’ve put into just my own “Birthday” compilations, I can attest to the fact that his two books on the subject, Honor Roll and Where Do We Find Such Men represent huge undertakings and I’m confident they will continue to be recognized as treasured local history references long after we here now are gone.
I’ve learned so much from both books and one of my favorites is Bob’s story of today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant. Anthony Kosiba was born in the Rug City on October 10, 1908, one of eight children. At the age of fifteen, he began working for the Fitzgerald Bottling Works in Amsterdam. By the time he was called into service, he was 35-years-old, had married his wife Olga and had put in 20 years of service at Fitzgerald.
Kosiba was inducted in the Army on April 12, 1943. He did his basic training in Florida and then received additional training at bases in Arkansas, Alabama and Maryland. On August 1, 1944, a little less than two months after D-Day took place, Private First Class Kosiba was shipped over to England and was subsequently sent into action in France. He fought his way through Belgium and reached Hitler’s Germany by early Fall. That’s when the telegram addressed to his wife arrived back home. It informed her that her husband had been killed in action in Germany on October 6th.
A funeral Mass was held for Anthony at St. Stanislaus Church and Olga set about making the sad adjustment to the life of a young widow and then a letter arrived at her McCleary Avenue home. It was from her husband.
Going’s books include descriptions of a few instances when widows of fallen Amsterdam servicemen received letters from husbands who had lost their lives in action after the correspondence had been written and mailed back home. That’s exactly what Olga thought the circumstances were as she read what she thought were the last words her husband would ever share with her. But then she noticed that her husband had dated the letter and he had written it after the date he supposedly died.
Going tells his readers that Olga later learned that Anthony had been so seriously wounded in battle that it was initially thought he was dead. Going surmises that at that point his nametag was collected and the process that culminated with the initial telegram being sent to Mrs. Kosiba was initiated. Meanwhile, Anthony Kosiba’s Guardian Angel went to work and Kosiba showed the sign of life necessary to make someone realize he was not ready to meet his maker quite yet. After a long and arduous recovery period in Army hospitals, he came home to Olga. He went back to work at the bottling plant and retired as production manager. He and Olga got to spend another 55 years together before she died in 1998. Anthony Kosiba lived another five years before he passed on March 6, 2003, at the age of 94. As of today, no one has reported receiving any letters from him dated later than that.