Zdzisław 'Jerry' Dewicki


Zdzisław Dewicki joined Irene, his wife of 71 years, for Christmas in heaven, entering eternal life on December 16, 2021, when God called him by name.

Known as Jerry to his friends and family, he was the second son of Władysław and Bronisława Dewicki. Born in Detroit, July 16, 1922, and baptized at St. Hedwig’s.

The family moved to Wayne, MI, where Jerry attended the local public schools, graduating from Wayne High School in 1940.

Jerry learned music on the accordion and then progressed to the violin and the cello. Known for his skill on the cello in high school, he received a scholarship to the University of Michigan, School of Music. Jerry turned down the scholarship and attended Munger Trade School, studying drafting, design and engineering. Employed for a short time at Stinson Aircraft, he started in the mailroom eventually moving to the drafting boards where he helped design the wings for the L5 airplane used for military observation.

On September 10, 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps Reserves and was called to active duty on October 9, 1942. He flew in B-24’s as bombardier/navigator and was assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force, 464th Bombardment Group (H), 779th Squadron. Stationed at Pantanella Air Base, approximately 15 km south of the Cerignola, Apulia, Italy, Second Lieutenant Zdzislaw Dewicki participated in 14 bombing missions in the European and North African Theaters.

On August 25, 1944, the 779th Squadron was sent out on a bomb run. Jerry’s target was a factory at Prostejov, Czechoslovakia. While returning from the bombing run, his plane, the “Paper Doll” , MACR 8391—Air Craft Serial Number 44-29351, ran out of fuel and crashed at 1219 hours over Austria. He became a German Prisoner of War and was sent to Stalag Luft 1, in Barth, Germany. The Russians liberated the Stalag on May 1, 1945, and Jerry made his way back to the US. For his service, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Prisoner of War Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Battle Stars and the World War II Victory Medal.

Jerry and best pal, Steve Rudnyk, went through army basic training together, but were assigned to different units. They met up again in POW camp. While looking for an open bunk in the barracks, Jerry was surprised to hear a familiar voice call out to him. It was Steve! Together they survived their time in POW camp. Back in the States, the friendship continued, even after Steve and his family moved to Arizona. They made several trips to Alaska, fishing for salmon. Jerry also maintained contact with several of his crew members from the "Paper Doll”.

After the war, the Dewicki family moved from Wayne to Belleville, Michigan, where Jerry started a small business: Dee’s Dairy Bar in 1948. While in high school, Jerry had joined Laur, a Polish Dance Troupe, and returned to the group after the war. He met Irene Mazur when she attended a Laur social event with her sister Stephanie. The Polish dance group held performances all over Metro Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.

Jerry and Irene were married on July 22, 1950. After selling the Dairy Bar in 1952, Jerry returned to engineering, settling into a 30-year career with Ford Motor Company. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1959 from Lawrence Institute of Technology, now Lawrence Technological University.

Irene had her part in the war effort working for Cadillac Motor Company on the midnight shift grinding aircraft crankshafts for the Allison engine used in P-38 Lightning, P-39 Airacobra, P-40 Warhawks, the P-51 Mustang and the P-63 Kingcobra.

Jerry and Irene led a very active life. They developed life-long friendships with fellow Ford Motor employees, visiting regularly, spending family vacations together, and enjoying travels together after the children were grown. Jerry was a member of several veterans groups: Pvt. John Lyskawa VFW Post in Dearborn Heights, Military Order of Purple Heart and the Wolverine Chapter of AX-POW’s originally in Dearborn which merged with the Ann Arbor Chapter, holding a variety of positions, including Post Commander. He participated in many of their events, especially Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades, where he was well known for driving his Ford replica car with one of his grandchildren, passing out candy to the parade viewers. Jerry and Irene also attended many of the yearly AX-POW reunions and conventions. On Dec. 7th, 2004, Jerry was one of eleven veterans inducted into the Wall Of Heroes by the AnnArbor VA.

More friendships developed through Dearborn Seniors and Dearborn Church of the Divine Child prayer group.

Jerry inspired his grandson, Benjamin Kreucher, to write a book, “ Kriegsgefangenenpost: Prisoner of War Mail”, available on Amazon. The description of the book reads, “Every mother dreaded the visit from the War department during World War II. It was never good news. This saga relates the story of Second Lieutenant Zdzisław Dewicki as told through letters he wrote home from Luft Stalag 1 outside Barth, Germany”

Jerry is survived by his 7 children, twenty-five grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.