Lt. Col Edward J. Putryae 

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Edward Joseph Putryae was born on January 24th 1906 in Rockvale, Colorado to parents Joseph, a coal miner, and Theodosia. The second eldest of nine siblings, both his parents had emigrated to the United States from Galicia, Poland at the beginning of the century. Edward would work on the railroad his entire life as an engineer, and while we only know a little of his life pre-war, we know he worked for the Chicago & Alton Railroad Co. in Indiana before moving to the Bay area to work for the Southern Pacific Co. He would remain in Marin County for the rest of his life.

 

In 1938 he married Alys Caroline Widman in San Francisco, where the couple were enthusiastic walkers, often leading local hiking groups. He enlisted in 1943 into the 716th Railway Operating Battalion, a unit sponsored by Southern Pacific, and became the 1st Lieutenant of Company B. His company followed much of the action in mainland Europe, with their responsibility being the maintenance and repairs of the trains. His role with the MFAA came when he was selected to accompany the train that was travelling to Krakow to return the recently found Veit Stoss altarpiece. Accompanied by a number of Monuments Men and Women, the altarpiece was greeted with huge fanfare by the Polish people and government. It is possible he was chosen for such a job due to his Polish language skills, and in May 1946, the Polish Government officially recognized him and several MFA&A officers by awarding them the Silver Cross of Merit (Srebrny Krzyż Zasługi), a Polish civil state award. 

       

Not much is known about his life after he returned to California. He continued to work for Southern Pacific and to serve in the United States Army; he was discharged in 1966 as a Lt. Col., having served in the Vietnam War.

 

Edward Joseph Putryae died on October 2nd 1975, and was buried in San Francisco, California.

The Foundation is very interested in learning more about Edward Putryae's life, as well as his service. If you have any information, please contact abottinelli@monumentsmenfoundation.org.