CHICAGO (CBS) – He was there for one of the most significant events in the history of the world: D-Day and the capture of the Normandy beach in France during the Second World War.
Chicagoan Walter “Wiff” Nogulich literally lived history for his 101 years. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot told the story of the lasting legacy the Army veteran left at Albany Park.
In addition to being a World War II veteran, Nogulich has resided in Chicago all his life. He earned the nickname “Wiff” due to his impressive speed on the football and baseball fields.
The 88th Readiness Division Military Funeral Honors Team presented an American Flag to Nogulich’s family on behalf of the President of the United States and the United States Army.
“He loved being able to serve,” Nogulich’s daughter Natalija said.
Nogulich, of Serbian origin, died on August 19 at the age of 101. The Lane Tech High graduate served in the United States Army. He was one of the soldiers who landed in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, with the 90th Infantry.
He received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and two Presidential Citations.
“I asked him, I said, ‘How did you survive? ‘” Nogulich’s daughter said. “He was hurt, of course, he got the Purple Heart. He said, ‘You know honey, I just didn’t dwell on it. I just continued. He had a lot of faith.”
His daughter is a Chicago-born actress, best known for her roles in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Christmas Vacation.”
Natalija Nogulich said her father’s faith was an integral part of her life.
“The day after he returned, still in uniform, he went to church to light a candle and give thanks for his survival and that’s when my mum spotted him from the choir and said, ‘I’m going marry this soldier,” she said.
Nogulich and his wife, Helen, wanted to have a church for the Serbian community in Albany Park. So, in 1964, they came together with 18 other families to found the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Steven of Decani.
Today, the congregation numbers more than 350 people.
“Their legacy is their love for God and for our beautiful community,” the father said. Alexander Petrović.
“I know my mother and father are people who will not be forgotten,” said Christ Nogulich, Walter’s son.
Nogulich shared his perspective on faith with the Sunday School class at St. Basil of Ostrog High School just three months ago.
“If you don’t love God, you don’t love yourself,” he said. “Love your family, be loyal to them, and stay close to them.”
Walter ‘Wiff’ Nogulich, a veteran, man of God, who helped create a place of worship, providing community service in Albany Park, for generations to come.