In Memory of
U.S. Army Corporal Blunt, South Dakota
Hughes County

December 13, 1925 – October 14, 1952
Killed in Action on Jane Russell Hill in Korea


Eugene “Gene” H. Pietrus was born December 13, 1925, in Pierre, South Dakota, to Charles and Lucy (Sommer) Pietrus. He had two brothers, Leo and Philip, and one sister, Mary A. Eugene attended school in Byron Township, Polo, and graduated from Pierre High School in May of 1943. His interests were sports, including football, rodeos, boxing, and livestock. After high school, he went to Lane Auction School in Mason City, Iowa and graduated in 1947; he then worked in ranching, farming, and as an auctioneer at sale barns in Ft. Pierre, Miller, and Blunt. He is remembered for his great personality; he was very caring with the children he found in the Korean War Zone.

Eugene was drafted into the service September 19, 1951. He was selected as the leader of “a contingent of selected men from Local Board No. 16.” He took training at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. He left from Seattle, Washington, for war overseas on February 22, 1952, landing in Inchon, Korea on Easter Sunday. He was a member of the Company C, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Pietrus was promoted to Corporal on July 1, 1952. In his last letter home to his sister, Mary A., dated October 7, 1952, these lines:

The last time we were on the line, we had to dig foxholes and trenches day and night, as there wasn’t either on the hill when we moved up on it. Had to sleep in the foxholes when we had the chance to sleep….The night we moved off of the line, we walked about fourteen miles in the rain.

Corporal Eugene Pietrus was killed in action while fighting the enemy on Jane Russell Hill on October 14, 1952. Corporal Pietrus’s friend, recovering from his own wounds in a hospital in Korea, wrote to Pietrus’s sister, Mary A., telling her what took place on Jane Russell Hill the day Eugene was killed:

…We attacked Triangle Hill and Jane Russell Hill on which Gene was hit. We reached the top of the hill about eleven in the morning. I was a short distance behind Gene in a different squad. A large Chinese round of some kind came in and Gene along with several others fell. Gene was hit pretty bad, especially around the head and neck. Bob Mathis and I ran up and helped a medic carry him back down to the aid station. However, he passed away before we got there. He never regained consciousness nor spoke to anyone. Believe me Mary, we did all we could but it just wasn’t enough. Gene and Bob were my two best friends and I miss them both very much.

The body of Eugene Pietrus was returned to the United States in January of 1952, and then his remains were returned to Pierre by train with military escort. He was buried with military honors at the Calvary Cemetery.

Cpl. Eugene Henry Pietrus was awarded the Korean Service Medal, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

At the time of his death Eugene was survived by his mother; two brothers, and a sister. Current survivors are his brother, Philip, of Eagle Butte, and his sister, Mary A. Schliessmann, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Eugene’s sister, Mary A., told us in closing: “He gave his life fighting for a cause of America and to help another country. Something his mother and siblings never fully recovered from or forgot!! May he rest in peace and God Bless.”

    

This entry was respectfully submitted by Brian J. Stampe, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 24, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by Mary A. Schliessmann, sister of Corporal Eugene Pietrus, and an application for a SD veteran’s bonus. Profile approved by Mary A. Schliessmann.