SSgt. Walter Sak – Park 70

One War, Four Brothers, and a City Park

Location:  Rich, Lovett and Kinsman Streets

The first thing I ever read about Walter Sak Playground was in a city report stating it was “a forlorn park in a forlorn neighborhood”.  Little evidence of a playground remained when I first rolled by.  The surrounding neighborhood was a mixed bag of hope and blight with some new construction and steadfast neighbors just trying to keep it all together. 

I'll replace this with a recent photo soon. Hope the dolphin and helix are still there.
Photo taken in 2015.  I’ll replace this with a recent photo soon. Hope the dolphin and helix are still there.  Notice the church steeple in the background. 

What a difference a few years make!  The transformation is a major boon for this neighborhood.  Kudos to Detroit Parks and Rec. 

Notice the church steeple in the background.  The modernist dolphin and helix are long gone.. but what an amazing difference!  Detroit parks are getting there!

Formerly known as Kinsman Playground, the park first came to fruition in the 1920’s.  Good days were had in 1940’s and 1950’s serving kids with a baseball diamond, lots of playground equipment, ice skating [flooded park in winter], drinking fountains, and a comfort station with toilet.  A one acre destination for neighborhood kids.

This is one of my favorite photos. 1960’s in Sak.

Jacob and Tille Sak raised their large Polish family of 11 children on nearby Scotten Street.  When World War II came along, four eligible and brave sons served  – Michael, Joseph, Stanley and Walter.  They all returned to Detroit except for Walter.

Walter Sak courtesy of Stanley Sak and WWIImemorial.com Some of the loveliest military photos I've run across.
Walter Sak – US Army.  All photos courtesy of Stanley Sak and WWIImemorial.com Some of the loveliest military photos I’ve run across.

 

Stanley Sak - US Navy; may you be always blessed Stanley. Photo courtesy Stanley Sak and WWIImemorial.org
Stanley Sak – US Navy; May you be always blessed Stanley.

 

Michael Carl Sak - US Army
Michael Carl Sak – US Army
Joseph Louis Sak - US Army Airforce
Joseph Louis Sak – US Army AirForce

Prior to service, Walter was a skilled worker in an auto parts factory grinding and buffing.  He landed in the US Army 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant earning both the Bronze Medal and Silver Star.

His division was responsible for many amphibious assaults including D-Day at Normandy.  Walter’s service was long and varied with additional battles in North Africa- Kasserine Pass, Tunisia ; Sicily, Italy; Remagen and Stolberg, Germany.

Battle Map - Hürtgen Forest, Germany. 11-20-44 Walter's path with the 1st Infantry, 26th Division is on the lower right with short pink arrow. Source: A Dark and Bloody Ground by Edward Miller.
Battle Map – Hürtgen Forest, Germany. Walter’s path with the 1st Division, 26th Infantry is on the lower right. Source: A Dark and Bloody Ground by Edward Miller.

The end of the line came on Monday, November 20, 1944; Walter died of wounds received in battle in the Hürtgen Forest  where his division took the Laufenberg Castle.  His relatives tell us, he arrived at the field hospital missing his arm.  The specifics of his service, military citation and death are forgotten details not found in military service databases and likely lost in the US  archival records fire of 1973.

Again, his surviving family tells us an inquiry with the National Archive shows the battle site in  Schevenhütte, Hürtgen Forest, Germany.  Walter is interned in Belgium at the Henri-Chapelle US Military Cemetery, but in Detroit his legacy will always be at Lovett and Rich Street.  Walter Sak, Detroit remembers you.

Thanks for reading. Copyright as usual. ©2015, Andrea Gallucci.