George William Tomecko Sr.
George W. Tomecko Sr., of Storrs, died Monday, February 13, 2017 at the Mansfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He was born April 21, 1922 in Chicago, IL, the son of Stephen Paul and Magda (Stefunko) Tomecko. He lived in New York City until WWII. After the war, he spent summers in Gurleyville. In 1953, he built his house in Storrs that he would live in until his death. Older Storrs residents will remember George as their dedicated mailman who would often perform acts of kindness while performing his job. He married Dorothy B. Dimock of Gurleyville on August 28, 1947 in Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church in South Coventry and enjoyed 63 years of marriage until her death in 2010. He leaves three children, Patricia Lee Gembala (Edwin) of Hawthorn Woods, IL, George William Tomecko Jr. of Mansfield, CT, and Constance Leona Tomecko of Willington, CT; three grandchildren, David Joseph Tomecko (Shannon) of Dallas, TX, Allen Russell Tomecko (Andrea) of Natchez, MI and Stephen William Tomecko of Miami, FL; and four great grandchildren, BreeAnna Lynn & Revin Adrianna of Natchez, MI and Bette Blair & Georgia Rose of Dallas, TX. He also leaves a cousin, Marion Vandermark; two sisters-in-law, Constance L. Dimock of Trumbull, CT, Virginia M. Dimock of Ashford, CT; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a brother, Stephen Paul Tomecko; a sister, Betty Constance Roberts (Joseph); half sisters, Helen Toth Cancellieri (Ben), Lillian Toth Bradley, Mary Toth Cherkes (Romeo); and half brothers, Edward Toth, Joseph Walter Toth (Dorothy); and an infant grandson, Timothy Arthur Tomecko. Shortly after his 18th birthday, George enlisted in the Army Air Corp and served with the 27th Material Squadron stationed at Nichols Field in the Philippine Islands. He was a 19 year old private first class serving as an aerial gunner when the Philippines were attacked shortly after Pearl Harbor. He became part of that small group of men who were cut off from support, fought on, and became known as the "Battling Bastards of Bataan." He was taken prisoner in May of 1942 and spent the next 3.5 years in infamous Japanese prison camps in South Korea and Manchuria. During his imprisonment, his weight dropped from 150 to 80 pounds, and he endured many occasions of severe beatings. The camp was liberated and he was discharged in June of 1946. He was awarded multiple Purple Hearts as well as a number of Campaign and Victory Medals. Almost 40 years later, he was asked to come to Westover Air Force Base where, in a special ceremony, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his wartime valor. He was an active member of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, serving a term as Vice Commander of the regional chapter. In 2015, he was extensively interviewed by a delegation from China and is featured in a movie entitled "Behind Bayonets and Barbed Wire." It depicts the experiences of those Americans who fought, were captured, and endured inhumane treatment during the Bataan Death March and subsequent captivity. Remarkably, George never harbored any ill will toward his captors after the war. The family would like to express their appreciation to the wonderful nurses and staff of both Home Instead Senior Care and the Mansfield Nursing& Rehab Center for their loving support and care of George. His family will receive friends and relatives on Sunday February 19, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Potter Funeral Home, 456 Jackson Street, (Rte 195), Willimantic. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday at 10:00 am at St Phillip the Apostle Church, 64 Pompey Hollow Rd, Ashford. Burial at the Storrs Cemetery will be delayed until weather permits. For an online memorial guestbook please visit www.potterfuneralhome.com
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