S1c Albert M. Cervenak
aboard the Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Bunker Hill (CV17)
Killed in Action 11 May, 1945, Battle of Okinawa
-- Patricia Suzanne (Cervenak) Albani --
"It was Mother's Day, May 11, 1945, off Okinawa. After 58 days of continuous action, there was
a slight lull and the ship was on condition One Easy -- ventilators open, most of the ship's crew
relaxing when two bomb-laden kamikazes penetrated the task force undetected until the very last
moment. It was too late!"
-- Udoff, Irv. The Bunker Hill Story. Turner Publishing Company,1994
My father was 27 years "young" when he was "buried at sea". His name is listed among the "Halls of
the Missing", in "Punchbowl" National Cemetery, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Born in Masontown, Pennsylvania on November 14, 1918, to Susan Danko and Michael Cervenak, he
spent most of his life in New Salem, Pennsylvania. In 1941 he married Stella Ochociensky and they
moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he worked as a tool and dye maker until he was drafted.
His military career was short. It began with reporting for training at USNTC GREAT LAKES, Illinois
on May 23, 1944; to NA Technical Training Center, Norman, Oklahoma on December 8, 1944; to CARRIER
AIRCRAFT SERVICE UNIT SEVEN, NAS Seattle, Washington in December, 1944; and aboard the U.S.S. BUNKER
HILL (CV 17) on December 30, 1944. He served on the BUNKER HILL as an Aviation Ordinanceman.
In addition to his wife and daughter, my father is survived by his brother Thomas J. (Tim) of Uniontown,
Pennsylvania. Tim served in the Army Air Force in the South Pacific, 1942-45. His sister, Mary Elizabeth
(Betty) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is deceased.
His father Michael died in 1953. Prior to her death in 1982, his mother Susan was an active member
of, and served as, President of the Fayette County (Pennsylvania) Gold Star Mothers. She also
organized, and served as the first President of, the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 753, New Salem.
My mother, Stella Cervenak Medlen currently resides in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and is also a Past
President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 753. I am very appreciative of the patriotism I
experienced, in my family, and in our small town while growing up. I still "well up" at the sight
of The Flag. I was the town's "token war orphan" and participated in many memorial ceremonies and
I never got to know my father, and he hardly got to know me. I was two and a half years old when we
last saw each other. I have only one or two "snapshot" memories of him that I think are genuine. I do,
vividly, remember the day that my mother received "The Telegram." At the time of delivery, we were
in my grandparent's yard taking photos to send to "daddy". My mother became hysterical, and neighbors
took me to their house and tried to distract me with ice cream. Even the ice cream could not divert
my attention from the sound of my mother wailing across the street.
My father wrote to my mother, and me, every day. I have these letters and I treasure them. His
letters introduce me to a young man who was sweet and loving and sensitive, with a very strong desire
to make his family proud, and to be at home with them. This was not to be. He made the "supreme
sacrifice," and so did his family.
My mother did not remarry until I was an adult. I craved a father and a family. I always fantasized
that my father actually survived the war, had amnesia, and was living on an island in the South
Pacific. Surely he would come for me soon!
I am thankful that my family kept my father's memory alive for me, and I am very grateful for this
organization. I never had an opportunity to really "grieve" until I attended my first AWON meeting,
Veterans Day weekend, 1996 in Washington, D.C. At this meeting I was given the opportunity to share
feelings I never knew I had, with others like me. I love my new found brothers and sisters. We are