Joseph Katalinas
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Camp Croft, South Carolina
US Army Infantry Replacement Training Center

The family of Joseph "Joe" Katalinas submitted this excellent article regarding their father's experiences in the Army, including his stay at Camp Croft.  Not included in the summary on the Reminiscences page is the complete, unedited text presented below.

 
    Joseph Anton Katalinas, the first football coach at Camp Croft was the son of Lithuanian immigrants.  His father provided for his family of four sons by working in the coal mines of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.  His mother diligently instilled faith in the Lord and encouraged her boys to work hard in school for she knew a good education would keep them from health-breaking years in the coal mines. 

 All of the Katalinas boys excelled in athletics and after high school Joe was the second son to receive a football scholarship to Georgetown University.  At Georgetown, Joe and his older brother Ed toughened up the Hoya’s front line. With the Katalinas boys on the team at the end of each season the Hoya’s wins exceeded losses.    At Georgetown Joe met the future Georgetown Hall of Fame recipient Charles R. Cox’s daughter Regina, his future spouse and mother of his 9 children. 

 After graduation in 1934 Joe worked for the Agricultural Department and  played on the Dixie Professional Football league with  three pro football teams; the Maryland Athletic Club, Washington Presidents and the Washington Pros.  In 1936 he attended extensive military reserve training with the 317th Infantry Division at Ft. Mead in Maryland. On July 10, 1940 Joe was called from reserve status.  He was assigned to Ft. Benning, Georgia for more training in the fall of 1940 and in 1941 to Camp Croft, South Carolina.  He was at Camp Croft on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl  Harbor. After this horrendous event he spoke to his football team and told them, “Men, we are winners, we’re fighters, we need to be over there and we need to help this Country win the war and we  must all take the courage and determination we have shown playing football and now we  must use that ability and defend our Country”. 

 Joe Katalinas orchestrated many successful battlefield assaults.  Some of his heroics are written about in the Infantry Press book entitled “Ours to Hold it High” a book about the 77th infantry’s battle at Ie Shima in the Ryukus Islands.  It was in this campaign that on April 20, 1945 that Captain Joseph Katalinas of the 77th Division, 306th Infantry  was wounded four times because he  personally led his company in a charging assault against the peak.  Inspired by his heroism and determined leadership the company, without hesitation, followed him through the intense mortar and machine gun cross-fire and in a matter of minutes captured the peak and destroyed over one hundred enemy soldiers.   Despite his wounds, Captain Katalinas reorganized his company on its objective, issued instructions to his second in command, and only then did he return unaided to the rear for medical treatment.  For his outstanding heroism Joe was awarded the “Distinguished-Service Cross” and December 9, 1947 was  admitted to membership in  the  Army and Navy Legion of Valor of the U.S. of America”. 

 After Joe's wounds had healed he was assigned to the Pentagon where he formed the “Pentagon Athletic Club” in 1947.   His next assignment was with the 747th AU, USARCARIB School, Fort Gulick, Canal Zone. On January 21, 1951, during his service at the Canal Zone he again displayed his quick thinking and disregard for personal safety and assisted two officers who were exhausted in their efforts to rescue an 8 year old. Joe prevented the drowning of the two officers and the little boy. For this action he received a Commendation Ribbon for bravery.

 Joe was then reassigned to the Pentagon and then to Korea  where his sense of humor and fun was displayed when he was choppered  in as Santa Claus for his troops.  His next assignment was Camp Zama in Japan after which he was assigned to Ft. Ord in California, where on May 31, 1960, he retired from active service and was transferred to XV US Army Corps (Reserve) with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 

 Joseph Katalinas was a "giver." He was always giving something…his time, a little gift, a kind word of encouragement, a smile, a hug, sensible advice.  He was a giver in the true sense of the word, a naturally generous man who never approached life with the attitude of “what’s in it for me?”  He would lay down his life for God, his family, friends, and he was a true American who did lie down his life for his country.  Joe never expected laurels or banners. He had a true love for fellow man and his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery, in March of 1998 at the age of 84 1/2, is befitting to his worldly accomplishments.