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Steve William Wounaris

Hancock County Courier

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Steve William Wounaris
1918-1943

"True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow; that’s what courage is."

Norman Schwarzkopf

U.S. Army Corporal Steve William Wounaris was a resident of Weirton, West Virginia, who enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 26, 1941, more than nine months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was a member of the 15th Infantry, 3rd Division, and was a Technician Fifth Class.

Steve was born in Weirton, West Virginia, on September 31, 1918, to Catherine and William Wounaris. His family was Greek and were members at the Greek Orthodox parish in Weirton. He was unmarried and his siblings are now deceased. At the time this biography was written contact with any living relatives was unable to be made. He had completed two years of high school, but the specific school is unnamed; he most like attended Weir High School.

Weirton was a boom town during Steve Wounaris’ lifetime. The economy of the city was dominated by the Weirton Steel Company, and that was where he was employed prior to his enlistment in the military. The workers of the Weirton Steel plant created their own union during the 1930s to combat the financial difficulties of the Great Depression. The community around the steel company was very close knit. Wounaris was also a member of All Saints Greek Orthodox parish in Weirton. He was also not the only Greek-American from Hancock County to enlist. His brothers Stelios and Nick also enlisted. Nick survived the war and passed away in 2010. Stelios preceded Nick in death, but it was unclear as to how he passed away and no obituary could be found. One source also claimed that Steve Wounaris was married to Thelma Louise Postlethwaite; however, none of the obituaries or Steve’s enlistment record shows him having a wife. There was also another Steve Wounaris from West Virginia, so that may account for the single report of marriage.

In September of 1941 Wounaris went to basic training at Fort Ord in California. He was a member of the medical battalion. His rank, Technician Fifth Class, was also referred to as Corporal. His unit, part of the 15th Infantry, 3rd Division, was shipped to North Africa in 1942 and served there until the Allied Invasion of Sicily. On August 11, 1943, Wounaris was killed during an Allied attempt to overrun the Axis position.

A Hancock County Courier article about Wounaris quotes his Silver Star citation:

While attacking a ridge in Sicily, the company to which Corporal Wounaris was attached to as aid man was subjected to a heavy barrage of enemy artillery fire. The men took cover, with the exception of one man who had been seriously wounded. Corporal Wounaris immediately went out to him and bandaged his wounds while under heavy shell fire. After helping carry the wounded man to safety, Corporal Wounaris started out again to aid other men who had been injured, but he was killed en-route by artillery fire. Corporal Wounaris’ disregard for personal safety and devotion to duty reflects the highest traditions of the Medical Corp and the Military Service. (“Heroism of Weirton Soldier Is Told in Citation of Deeds,” 9 Dec. 1943.)

Steve William Wounaris was buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, in Plot I, Row 11, Grave 9. For his exemplary service he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals. The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration for valor awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces. It is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the United States Armed Forces who, while serving under the order of any commander of the United States Armed Forces after 1917, has been wounded or killed during battle.
Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy. Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission

Steve Wounaris did not get to live into old age because he was defending America during the Second World War. His courage cannot be understated.

Article prepared by Nathan Wright, George Washington High School, Advanced Placement U.S. History
May 2015

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Steve William Wounaris

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