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Alex Penkala

Alex Penkala

The basics
Quick Facts
Gender male
Birth 1 January 1924 (South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana, U.S.A.)
Death 10 January 1945 (Foy, Bastogne, Luxembourg, Wallonia)
The details

Private First Class Alex M. Penkala, Jr. (August 30, 1924 – January 10, 1945) was an American 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 (their Polish surname Pękala was written according to English pronounciation as Penkala). 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.

Military service

In August 1942 after joining Easy Company in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 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.

Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Presidential Unit Citation with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Good Conduct Medal ribbon.svg Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrow device
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
French Liberation Medal ribbon.png French Liberation Medal
BEL Commemorative Medal of the War 1940-1945.png Belgian World War II Service Medal
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Cp2j.jpg Parachutist Badge with 2 jump stars
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