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Charles Sarka

Courtesy Fields of Honor database

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Charles Sarka

"He who is brave is free."

Seneca the Younger

Charles Sarka was born on February 4, 1924, in Passaic, New Jersey. His father and mother, Samuel and Mary Sarka (nee Aruosi/Orisa), were born and raised in Batani, Hungary, before emigrating to the United States in 1913. Sometime between 1924 and 1927, the Sarka family immigrated to Wilcoe, West Virginia. Charles Sarka was one of nine children, with four sisters (Mary Baldea [nee Sarka], Ann Sarka, Marguerite Hedman [nee Sarka], and Elizabeth "Betty" Lambert [nee Sarka]) and four brothers (John Sarka, Mike Sarka, Nick Sarka, and George Sarka). As a child, he attended Wilcoe Elementary School, which is no longer standing, and later attended Gary High School, which was also later closed. Sarka was later employed by the United States Coal & Coke Company, at their company store based in McDowell County. During the early 20th century, thousands of men of Eastern European descent were recruited by the U.S. Coal & Coke Company, which led to a significant growth in West Virginia's population: Charles' father, Sam, was possibly affiliated with the coal industry upon immigrating. Charles Sarka also worked in the railroad industry before leaving West Virginia.

Immediately after his 19th birthday in 1943, Charles Sarka enlisted in the U.S. Army. In June, he joined the 82nd Airborne Division, which was sent to invade Sicily prior to the invasion of Italy. Following the Italian Campaign, the remainder of the division was moved to the United Kingdom in November to prepare for the liberation of Europe. During his time in England, he met with his sister, Marguerite, who was serving in the Women's Army Corps.

During fall of 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division had been fighting intermittently for many months. In an effort to counter German attacks, the division was assigned to capture the Meuse River and Nijmegen Bridge. This mission was known as Operation Market Garden, also known as one of the largest airborne battles in history. Operation Market Garden would prove to last many weeks and eventually ended in a major Allied defeat. At only 20 years old, Charles Sarka died in an artillery barrage that occurred on October 2, 1944, seven days after the end of the operation, in Holland.

Sarka was buried overseas, in Holland, in the American War Cemetery at Margraten. His mother received her son's Purple Heart medal on December 28, more than two months after his death. He was survived by, not only his mother, but his brothers, John, Nick, George, and Mike, as well as his sisters, Mary, Ann, Marguerite, and Elizabeth Sarka. As of March 2018, Elizabeth "Betty" Sarka is his only known, living, direct relative.
Thomas High School

Pvt. Charles Sarka's marker at Margraten. Courtesy Fields of Honor Database


Chen, C. Peter. "Netherlands." World War II Database, accessed 30 April 2018,

Morgan, Martin K. A. "The 82nd Airborne Division in Operation Market Garden." Warfare History Network, 3 May 2017, accessed 30 April 2018,

"Sarka, Charles." Fields of Honor Database, accessed 30 April 2018,

Article prepared by Julia Guo, George Washington High School Advanced Placement U.S. History
March 2018


Charles Sarka

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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