Paul J. Masek

1894 - 1954


Their Story

Paul J. Masek was born on May 1st, 1894, to William and Rose Masek in Middlesex, New Jersey. William’s and Rose’s birthplace on the 1920 census is listed as being in Austria, which at the time of their birth and immigration was the expansive Austro-Hungarian Empire. Around the turn of the century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was composed of a plurality of ethnic groups; Germans, Hungarians, Czech, Slovaks, Bosnians, and Italians to name just a few. The name Masek is Czech in origin, indicating that William and Rose likely immigrated to America from Bohemia, known in the modern day as the Czech Republic.[1] Interestingly, the Czech immigrants from Austria-Hungary did their best to retain their culture within their American communities:

By the end of the century there were significant sized colonies in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Others became farmers in states such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Texas. Attempts were made to preserve their language and culture. There were towns in Nebraska, and Texas called Prague. In these places very little English was spoken. These colonies published Czech-language newspapers and had Bohemian orchestras.[2]

Thus, Paul J Masek was a second generation immigrant to the United States. Perhaps the pride of growing up in a country that offered a new home for his family and culture was a contributing factor in Masek’s decision to join the army and fight in the First World War.

Masek fought in the First World War as a soldier of the 4th Infantry, 3rd Division: the so-called “Warriors Regiment”. The United States entered World War I after a German U-Boat sank the RMS Lusitania that was ferrying US citizens in 1915, and after the British intercepted the Zimmerman Telegram in 1917; in which Germany propositioned Mexico to invade the US. The US then sent its military to aid the Triple Entente of Britain, France and Russia against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. Thrust into the thick of the fighting were Masek and the Third Division:

Upon U.S. entry into World War I in 1917, the 4th Infantry deployed on April 6, 1918, as part of the 3rd Infantry Division. Thrust into line in July 1918 as the Germans made a last bid to capture Paris, the regiment was one of the units that blunted the German drive after an epic four-day stand along the Marne River. Ever after, the 3rd Division has been known as the Rock of the Marne. The regiment also participated in the St. Mihiel and Argonne offensives before the war’s end on November 11, 1918.[3]

The Third Division served with great honor and distinction on the battlefields of France, but not without sacrifices: “Although the stand was successful, the price was high. General “Black Jack” Pershing said it best when he called the Division’s performance ‘one of the most brilliant in our military annals.’ The division earned six battle stars in WWI. The 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers were awarded two Medals of Honor during WWI.”[4] Masek himself was awarded a Purple Heart for combat injuries, marking him as a contributor to the legend of the unmovable Rock of the Marne.

After World War I, Masek left the Army for some time. He returned home to live with his parents, working as a haberdasher.[5] He would marry Ferol Mary Sutherland for a time, their marriage producing two sons. After some years though, the two divorced, and Masek returned to the Army. He was stationed at San Francisco during this time.[6] Paul J. Masek passed away on May 31st, 1954. He leaves behind a legacy of courage in combat and United States immigrants’ dedication to serving their country.


[1] “Masek Name Meaning & Masek Family History,”, 2013

[2] John Simkin, “Austrian-Hungarian Immigrants,” Spartacus Educational (Spartacus Educational, January 2020),

[3] Chris Kolakowski, “‘The Warriors’ Regiment: 4th U.S. Infantry,” American Battlefield Trust, accessed June 2, 2022,

[4] “Division History,” Society of the Third Infantry Division, accessed June 2, 2022,

[5], n.d.

[6], n.d.