Stanley J. Kolanowski

Stanley James Kolanowski was born on April 7th, 1941 in Portland Oregon, to Catherine and Patrick Kolanowski. On April 27th he succumbed to liver cancer, and the resulting complications stemming from multiple traumatic injuries suffered in Vietnam. Stan was injured in 1970 when he was struck by the main rotor blade of a helicopter as he was returning from a mission.

Stan was a graduated from Central Catholic High School in June of 1959, he then went on to Gonzaga University where he joined ROTC and graduated with a BA in Business Administration in May 1964. After graduation he was commissioned as a 2LT, and joined the active US Army as a staff officer for the Judge Advocate General . Stan reclassified and was trained as Infantry Officer at Fort Benning, GA, eventually joining the 5th Special Forces Group where he deployed to Vietnam for his first tour of duty which lasted from January, 1968 – December, 1968. During his tour Stan was a Combat Development Officer attached to HHC 5th Special Forces Group. Stan redeployed for a second combat tour April 1970 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division, where he served as the S3 for the 3/506 Infantry Battalion, then as A Company Commander, 3/506 Infantry until his injury in August, 1970.

During his Military Career Stan earned the following decorations, medals and citations: National Defense medal, US Army Airborne Jump wings, The Ranger Tab, Path Finder Badge, Vietnam Service medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Jump Wings, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with “V”Device, Meritorious Unit Citation, US Army Commendation Medal, and a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters.

Stan’s training and education in the Military included Officer Basic Infantry School, Officer Advanced Infantry School, US Army Airborne School, Ranger School, Combat Surveillance School, Special Warfare School, Special Forces Operations Officer Course, Pathfinder Course, National Security Management Course.
He married army nurse Tonjia Marie Karr in Landstuhl, Germany in 1967. His first child Geoffry Stephen was born 1969 in Ft, Benning, Georgia, and his second child Tashana Marie was born 1974 in New York, New York.

Following several years of medical reconstruction, after his traumatic amputation of his right arm and left shoulder, he was retired from the Army with 100% disability. He went on to be accepted at Columbia University in New York City where he completed Master Degrees in Information Sciences and a second Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

Stan had a variety of jobs including working for, Veteran Administration Research Center for Prosthetics, Time/Life Warner, Stratton Real Estate Group, Boise Cascade as well as being a book store owner, a US Census taker, and Disabled Advocate for the Vermont Center for the Disabled.

He especially enjoyed playing with and teaching his two children Geoff and Tashana:hunting, fishing, down hill, and cross country skiing, canoeing, hiking, gardening, cooking, golfing, racket ball, and squash. He was a dedicated volunteer in his children’s lives, boy scout leader, baseball coach, PTA participant, swim team parent, Catholic Parish volunteer.

His love of cooking was a source of great joy for his family throughout his life, his breakfasts of waffles with orange sauce, blueberry buttermilk pancakes, bacon, sausage and popovers were legendary. He was a follower of The New York Time 60 min dinners section, and they were a regular occurrence on the family’s dinner table. He had a great love of entertaining and good food. He also had a sweet tooth for gummy bears, and his grand children always could count on Grandpa Stan for some treats. He loved reading mysteries, military history and multiple newspapers.

Stan lived in many places over the course of his life starting in the Pacific North West in Portland Oregon, and to include Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Benning, Georgia, New York City, Brattleboro, VT and coming finally back to the North West the last five years of his life in Seattle, WA.

Stan is survived by his sister Patricia, his wife Tonjia, son Geoff, daughter Tashana, son-in-law Michael, grandchildren Marnie, Edythe and Edison along with several nieces and nephews.

His memorial will be held at Merrill Gardens in Seattle on May 5th, and he will be interred at Mount Calvary Cemetary in Portland, Oregon at a later date.

8 Responses to “Stanley J. Kolanowski”

  • Jerry Gomes says:

    101st Airborne 3/506 Currahees
    Sandy, Oregon

    Our condolences to the family. Airborne.

  • Ranger E. Estrada says:

    187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team Assn. RAKKASANS
    My deepest condolences to the family of our fallen Brother. Rest in Peace my Brother. From your Ranger Brothers at Ranger Base AJ”Bo”Baker Olympia Wa.

  • Mary Jayne Page Hellebust says:

    Sorry to just learn about Stan. I remember him from DC when two Gonzaga friends met before he went off full time to the Army. He was a neat guy.

  • Lou Yeck says:

    I served with CPT Kolanowski some 44 years ago as the “company clerk” of “C” company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 1st Armored Division, Ft. Hood, TX. Please accept my deepest condolences upon the news of the passing of Stanley.

  • Dr. Thomas E. Stump says:

    I was working as the oral & maxillofacial surgeon aboard the “Repose” hospital ship near Đà Nẵng, South Vietnam in 1970.

    Stan Kolanowski and his platoon had cleared a small site in the hilly jungle area inland from Denang, in order to permit a helicopter to land with needed supplies. While hand signaling the helo pilot, Stan fell down on his back, apparently from the wind of the helo and the slippery slope of the small landing site. His reflex was apparently to quickly stand up,but when he did so, he unfortunately had reached the circumferential path of the rotating helo blade. The tip of the blade cut deeply through his left shoulder, then through his face, (from the bridge of his nose down through the chin, miraculously just missing both eyes), and then continued to cleanly slice off his right hand & wrist, (with his wrist watch still on the amputated appendage). First aid was effectively given to him by a medic to try to limit the heavy hemorrhage to preserve his airway. A helo delivered him to land on the Repose hospital ship, where he was quickly triaged & sent to the operating room. My challenging task was to put the remaining many pieces of his mandible (lower jaw) back to a corrected position, and then stabilize them with an acrylic external splint. His nose was missing, but I was able to reposition his fractured nasal septum,preserve & insert plastic tubing into the right left nasal passageways to maintain future nasal breathing. I had initially performed a tracheotomy for his temporary airway & general anesthesia delivery. Intraoral facial lacerations were cleansed & closed.

    While I was busy with his oral-facial surgical needs, our orthopedic surgeon attended to the left shoulder injury. He said he would normally amputate this total left arm because of the major injuries, but finding what appeared to be an adequate blood supply and probably preservation of most of the nerve supply, and because of loss of the right hand & wrist, he elected to hopefully repair and retain this left arm. Surgically trying to replace the amputated right hand & wrist was considered impossible, & was not attempted.

    My time in the OR with Stan was approximately 15 straight hours, without thought of food, fatigue, or bodily functions. Stan received considerable blood transfusions. His vital signs progressed & he happily improved. Rather than flying him to an intermediate care hospital site (Japan or Hawaii) in 1 or 2 days (the norm), I kept him on our hospital ship for about 1 week to be certain of his proper care and satisfactory improved condition.

    I extend my sympathy to Tonja, his widow. I will never forget your husband, who was probably the most challenging patient I have treated in my 45 years of surgical care.

    Sincerely, Dr. Thomas E. Stump, DDS, MEd., Retired Capt.(DC), USN

  • Thomas Miller says:

    I was 2nd Platoon Sergeant of his Alpha Co. 3/506 Inf. 101st Airborne. The day he fell, I was the first to reach the Captain and applied sterile bandages about his face, for preserving his airway. only the rotors kept sweeping them about.

    Next on-scene was Medic Patrick Durkin who did a better job than me. Pat and I quickly carried him to the awaiting Bird that had just knocked him down, and it whisked him away, pronto.

    The day, the moments are forever fixed in my mind. I am thrilled he made it and lived such a full and productive life. I just wish I would have known he lived in Seattle as I am nearby.

    Well now then, rest in peace Captain and Currahee!

  • Patrick Durkin says:

    RIP Captain and slow salute. I was the medic and was with the Captain and Stg Miller on the day. We did our best but he needed a surgical team and I am glad to know that he made it and even gladder to know that he had such a full like. The Captain was a great leader and we owe him a lot to this day and for all days beyond. My thoughts and prayers go with him.

  • Jerry Bouck says:

    I served under Capt Kolanowski for about a month (1970). He was CO and I was in his CP (commander post) as a radio/communications specialist.
    I heard about his accident many months later. I had no idea he became a super over-achiever in life. Wow.
    Hats off to a great guy.

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