Combat Medic, World War II
European Theater - Rhineland, Normandy Invasion first wave, Battle of the Bulge
Medals and awards: American Campaign, World War II Victory Medal, European Campaign (two bronze stars), one Rhineland, two Central Europe, Army Occupational Medal, Good Conduct, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart
Louis Stanley Kaus, U.S. Army
Expert MI rifle
Expert US Military 45 pistol
Louis Stanley Kaus was born at home on April 17, 1917. Being born at home was common in those days. Many other families had their newborns enter our world the same way.
Kaus officially entered our world at 365 Lake Shore Drive East in Dunkirk's First Ward. The First Ward was considered one of Dunkirk's two Polish wards where many of the families were of Polish decent. Grade schools and even Sunday Mass were spoken in the Polish language. The other Polish ward was Dunkirk's Fourth Ward, which also had their own Polish-speaking schools and churches.
Both wards excelled in having great Polish bakeries, clubs, fire halls, corner grocery stores and even funeral homes. Both wards were great places to work and raise a family. At times being Polish didn't guarantee free run of the two wards. It has been said that the dividing line was the railroad tracks on Roberts Road. Though that was not really an official boundary line, if one were to enter Dunkirk's First Ward from the Fourth Ward, one would be greeted by the Polish welcome of "witamy." If one were to enter the Fourth Ward from Dunkirk's First Ward, they would also see the same Polish welcome attached to the upper railroad structure.
Louis was the son of Lawerence and Helen (Jankowski). He was part of a large family that consisted of his sister, Rose and brothers, John, Stanley, Frank, Louie, Sofie, Benjamin and Harry.
Sadness hit the Kaus family and neighborhood when Stanley passed away from complications of pneumonia at a very young age. To honor their son, the Kaus family gave his name to be written next to Louis' name (Louis Stanley Kaus). Raising a family of eight meant everyone had to chip in and help out. Lawerence, Louis' father was a painter. It was a good job that always kept him working. In the summers, outdoor painting found work for him from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Winter brought him inside, always finding people who needed a change in their homes.
As a young child, Louis found work picking strawberries at the Fedyszyn farm. After the season, he would do jobs from picking mushrooms to even going up to the Pacos farm on Concord Drive in Fredonia to pick up apples that fell from the trees, apples that were crushed into making apple cider.
Going to school for Louis was a little different from how first days of school are today. There was no bus, no car with a baby seat and no mother walking her son to his first class. For Louis, as for most of that age, on his first day of school his mom said, "Louis go with your friends to school today." Living on Lake Shore Drive brought a steady flow of children walking to either School 7 or Saint Hyacinth's. After school the kids just followed the older ones home. Those were the days when everyone knew everyone and their children.
Not many things went unseen or unheard in those days. The best thing was the older children watched and took care of the younger ones. At St. Hyacinth's, Louis played basketball, giving him the opportunity to play St. Mary's, Holy Trinity, St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's. For the big road trip, the boys played Mount Carmel of Silver Creek.
High school came, and it was off to Dunkirk High School for Louis. While there, he played football and baseball. When school was out, he could always be found with his good friends John Worosz, Charles Zerbracki, Mike Michalak and Joe Kucniky.
The summers always brought the boys to the Wright Park Beach, where they would swim out to the breakwall. Other days they would show off by swimming out a few hundred yards and then stand up with water only as high as their knees. The boys called them the First Ward Flats. Nights were spent around the cliffs with a fire and stories about pirate ships hiding in a place most called Devil's hole; a place that if one looked at it from the top of the cliffs, it actually looked as if a ship could sail into it. If one swam to it, they would see a 20-foot indentation in the cliff wall.
When the summer sunny days arrived and when all the work was done, Louis could be found at the Pangolin Street Ball Diamond. Back in the good old days, you had to get there early just to get picked to play. Today most ball fields lay empty, most lost to an invention called video games.
When his 18th birthday arrived, Louis signed all the paperwork and was officially a member of the First Ward Falcon Club. Back then it was legal to drink at 18, and it allowed one to join the Falcons. The year was 1935. Being young and now a member meant that Louis could try out for the Falcon Club fastball team, and being a great fastball pitcher branded him with a team jersey and a spot in the line up.
With school over, Louis landed a great job with the Alco plant in Dunkirk, where he became a welder in the welding shop. Having a good job was great but Louis had always thought he would grow up to be a carpenter, always dreaming that some day he would build his dream home. This dream, for now, was to be put on hold. He knew that all good things usually come to an end.
War was declared on the tiny empire of Japan. A few days later, war with Germany followed. Louis wanted to do his part, so he enlisted. After his basic training, Louis Kaus, along with most of his boot camp class, was headed for Europe. After boot camp, Louis headed to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to take a 26-week long course to become a combat medic. After his 26 weeks were completed, he came home for a short 10-day leave before receiving orders to report to New York City and board a troop carrier that held over 700 soldiers. The reason that Louis was only given a 10-day pass was that he was assigned to a convoy that consisted of over 400 vessels. Convoys were always kept top secret so that no one would know about any troop movements. After his 27-day convoy, Louis had orders sending him right into action by being assigned to Patton's third army.
Upon arrival, Louis was told he was being assigned to the old blood and guts division of Gen. George S. Patton. While on patrol, Louis would always hear, "Old blood and guts, our blood and his guts," referring to the general. Louis did get his time in action. Military records show that Louis' company was in combat for a 228-day period starting with the Battle of the Bulge and then taking over 10,000 square miles of the Rhineland.
During the Battle of the Bulge, many members of Louis' company were scattered and forced on their own due to the weather and an overwhelming enemy count. It was then that Louis was wounded severely in both elbows, his upper arm and his stomach and then left for dead. It was reported in his combat history page, "Corporal Louis Kaus is missing in action against enemy hostile forces, and it is believed his body will never be found."
Dunkirk Cpl. Louis Kaus was now, by his outfit, missing in action and presumed dead. It wasn't long before his commanding officer was writing the Kaus family and sending his condolences stating what a brave and good soldier Kaus had been under his command.
The unit went on without Louis, remembering him as the soldier who was always joking and being a funny guy. The men of Louis' company didn't know that their fallen brother was not dead or even missing in action. All this information came over seven months later when Louis reported back to his company.
The official records read that while engaged in heavy combat action against a larger enemy force and with weather conditions being severe that Louis Kaus was severely wounded by hostile enemy forces in both elbows and hands and received shrapnel wounds to his stomach. It was also revealed that two days after the battle, while a group of Belgium nuns from a local convent were walking down a trail to gather firewood for heating and cooking, they heard moaning from a ditch that was covered with tree limbs. Moving the branches was an American G.I. lying in a pool of blood and almost frozen.
The nuns, knowing the penalty that they would pay if ever found aiding an American, quickly took this soldier to a safe place and took care of him. It was months later before he could leave to rejoin the American liberating forces.
Returning to his outfit, the corpsman sent Louis to an army hospital in England where he spent months before returning back home to the states. It was many months of grafting and healing before he could get back to being normal and to carry on with his life.
Returning home, Louis wanted to return to his old job with the Alco plant. Being a decorated veteran had no extra benefit on returning to his job, however, because the war was over and so were many of the war orders for Alco. Those good old before the war days of everyone working and unlimited overtime was over.
Louis then got to do what he had always wanted to do. He finally got a chance to become a carpenter. With World War II over and many soldiers returning and with the G.I. bill, a lot of new homes were being built.
As Louis worked, he became better. He finally got the reputation of being one of the better finished carpenters in the area. Job after job came and finally he had time to fulfill his dream of building his own home. Having land on Fizell Avenue in the city, Louis began to build his own home which was easy for him because he had many carpenter friends who knew plumbing, electrical, roofing and heating who traded their skills in return for a few beers and the use of Louis's talent for their own homes.
The home at 138 Fizell was a dream home, well-built with all the latest inventions.
Louis Kaus was always telling a joke or making people happy. He loved playing fast pitch baseball and enjoyed his membership at the First Ward Falcon Club. He was a man who walked everywhere he went in his lifetime after the service but he also owned seven Cadillacs.
His home was a doll house with every tree and flower in its place. He was a man who did his duty and came close to paying the ultimate price. He was in the first wave in the D-Day invasion at Normandy that landed him a bronze star for his heroism.
I lived only one block away from Louis Kaus for almost 20 years. I knew him as a carpenter and only now realized he was a hero.
We lost Louis a few years back and with him went a lot of memories. It isn't until now that we could get to know about this local hero.