Joined the Honor Guard in Oct 1946
(but was soon transferred to General Headquarters for special duty)
[This article by Tim Chicirda, BucksLocalNews.com,
is included on the Honor Guard website with
permission of Pete Fesovich. Maurice Howe]
Army First Sergeant Peter J. Fesovich attended East Conemaugh High School as part of the class of 1945. There, Peter was a star basketball athlete and was one of 11 children. Peter’s wife, Joanne Louise, a retired nurse after 32 years, also attended East Conemaugh and met Peter in 1952 at a basketball game.
At the height of the steel industry in Johnstown, where Fesovich resided, mills spread out over 13 miles along the Little Conemaugh and Stonycreek Rivers. They ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, both to keep up with demand and to keep the furnaces going.
If they were allowed to go cold, it took days for them to get hot enough again to melt iron ore. Faster than anyone dreamed, the mills were closing. Instead of smoke and fire lighting up the night, there was quiet. Thousands of workers lost their jobs.
In 1954, Pete was asked to investigate transfer options to the U.S. Steel Fairless Works in Fairless Hills as he was job class 14, proficiently experienced in the hot, galvanized, cold roll sheet and tin-rolling mills, earning a top pay of $2.80 per hour.
But the real heroics in Peter’s life came soon after his graduation when he entered the armed forces. After leaving high school, his mom simply stated to him, “America needs soldiers.”
He obediently went to the recruiting office where he was told to “go home because he wouldn’t be 18 for two more weeks.” Pete rationalized, saying “Put down that I’m okay; it’ll take two weeks to get where I’m going.”
His first stop was Fort Meade, MD, named for General George G. Meade, a Union Army general in the U.S. Civil War, for the mandatory inoculations.
Then Peter was off to Fort Knox, Ky., to join the Third Armored Tank Corps Division, nicknamed the Spearhead Division, of the U.S. Army. It first activated in 1941 and was a key participant in the European Theater of World War II.
Pete explains that the tanks didn’t have the faster swivel in the turret traverse speed and were not like the tanks they have today, “If they had these tanks, I’d still be in the army at 82 years old!”
He never actually even used the tanks. He “thought he was going to ETO [European Theatre of Operations] but went to the Pacific.”
Pete was recruited for the Honor Guard, the top outfit in the service, for MacArthur from October through November 1946. Although Five Star General Douglas MacArthur was the top-ranking military leader in the Pacific, he had no troops directly in his command. The honor guard was formed in May 1945, to perform security and other tasks for MacArthur, who had a profound effect on the world stage, as a symbol of his authority and separateness.
Looking toward the future, he envisioned a need and role for a special unit under his control, a “crack” company of Infantrymen to serve as his personal security force, which was to include excellent character, fluent in Russian, Peter J. Fesovitch.
His order began, “The C-in-C desires that a special Guard Company be organized for providing local security for the Commander-in-Chief and General Headquarters installations.”
Minimum security by a single company of the exemplary soldiers served the General and guarded the Imperial Palace without fail from Manila to Tokyo.
After returning home from the service, Peter and wife Joanne have resided on Pond Street since 1957. They fell in love with the wharf along the Delaware River and the single home with a fireplace in the neighborhood that reminded them of their hometown Conemaugh, an Indian name meaning “long fishing place.”