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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Army’

Since this is the week of Memorial Day, I thought I would share something about a veteran from my husband’s side of the family. His paternal grandfather, Isidore Scheshko, was born 24 December 1889 in Tiraspol, Moldova, but ended up serving the United States army in WWI (and survived the war).

Six days before his 24th birthday, Isidore arrived in New York City, planning to become an American citizen.

Four years later, on 23 November 1917, he joined the U.S. Army and two months later was sent overseas for 13 months. His discharge information states that he was not wounded.

What the paperwork doesn’t say is that he was gassed during WWI–something that happened to a great many soldiers during that war. After that, he had a bad stutter. The only person he could speak to without stuttering was his wife, my husband’s grandmother, Celia. Since the long-term effects of mustard gas don’t appear to include neurological problems, I am speculating that maybe PTSD caused the stuttering.

My husband says that Isidore was also in the Czar’s army before he immigrated to the U.S. I think he’s a hero for joining up again so soon after coming to this country. After all, he was trying to support himself and learn English and he had a girlfriend (yes, Celia).

Not sure what army uniform this is: any ideas? Note that X on his right sleeve and the bars on the bottom of his left sleeve. Why do his legs appear to be “wrapped” with fabric?

We have a couple of postcards he sent to Celia while he was away. Here is one from 8 September 1918.

Then two months later:

Notice that he spells Celia’s name Sealie. And his own first name without the E at the end. The fine print legible underneath Isidore’s handwriting is the printed card itself, not postmark information. I don’t know where he was when this was sent, but it was in the middle of the period where he was “overseas.” It might seem surprising that after only four years in the United States, Isidore could write so well in English, but we do believe he wrote these cards himself. From the first card to the second, he apparently learned that it’s “I before E except after C.”

There is no way to tell from these upbeat notes to “Sealie” that Isidore had been gassed or had, in fact, seen any “action.”

Get a load of that fur hat in the photo on the left! It looks like the coat collar might also be fur. Do you think that is a uniform of the Russian army?

Isidore’s trade as a young man in America was a house painter, and when I think of the fumes he dealt with after he had gone through the gas in the war, it makes me wonder how he lived until 1953. But he didn’t stay a painter; within a few years, he and Celia owned a candy store in Sutton Place in Manhattan where his daughter (my husband’s aunt) went to school for a time with Anderson Cooper’s mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. That didn’t make him rich, but he didn’t suffer by coming to the United States, other than what he went through in the war.

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Sunday is Father’s Day, and it will be the 2nd one without my father. If he were here he might like if I shared some photos from his time in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

These are all from a fishing trip he was able to make, probably to the Yukon, in Canada, when he was stationed in Colorado or Alaska. I chose these photos because of all the times I went fishing with my father when I was a kid. We would take the rowboat out on the lake and fish for perch and (often) sunfish. Not like these fish!

 

Here is his permit from September 1, 1949. Notice it says Dad is a resident of Colorado, but that was his army address–he was actually from Chicago. Was he really living in Colorado at the time–or was it Alaska? I say that because I know he was in Alaska from the stories he used to tell me.

Apparently he took time out to see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, too.

Fish experts: what kind of fish did Dad catch?

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Last month, I posted a link to an article in the Western Herald about my Dad’s Combat Veterans’ Writing Group. Dad’s story and others had been showcased in the article.

Dad has written another story about his experience in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  I’d like to share a bit of it with you. In this piece, he explains why it took a long time on the sea for him to arrive in Korea.

Let’s start at the beginning. His military service started in 1948. He was a graduate of Lane Tech High School in Chicago and had realized he did not want to work in a factory or a grocery store. He counted on the army to help him get to college via the G.I. Bill.

World War II was over and the close down of the army for its people and materials was on the downslide. My two-year enlistment was a growing time of my life. It opened up travel: Ford Knox (gold storage), black-and-white drinking fountains, Camp Carson (mountain troops), New York City, driving the old Alaskan highway, Whitehorse Yukon Territory Canada.

Dad also visited Washington, D.C., when he was at Quartermaster School.

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By June 1950, Dad says, “my recall sent me back to Fort Knox for retraining with World War II veterans.” His enlistment had originally obligated him to a seven-year inactive tour, but this looked like change.

For two days we were issued tools and told to chop the corn down– (NO WAY!) All of these men were high-grade noncoms who had been commissioned officers during wartime conditions in World War II.

I asked Dad what “NO WAY” meant. Did they do it or didn’t they? Did they risk court-martial? He said the details are coming up in the next installment!

A few days later we boarded trains for Seattle, where we boarded the Navy troop ship, M.C. Meigs. The exact dates are foggy to me at this part of my journey. Once on board, we realized that half of the ship was the Canadian U.N. Army.

As the ship started out, we found that we were running north until we got to the Aleutian Islands and then for some reason we turned south, spending several days in Pearl Harbor. This was the first time I heard the song, “Harbor Lights.”

This video features Dinah Washington singing the 1950 version of “Harbor Lights.”

After 30 days, we arrived in Yokohama, Japan, where we were transferred to Camp Drake by Tokyo. After a few days, we departed for Inchon, Korea. We were lightly equipped and no personal arms.

The coincidence of this day was that the Chinese Army crossed the border, entering the Korean War: 3 November 1950. Chaos at that time was very evident to us. We were immediately loaded on a train for our destination, Pusan perimeter. As we moved south on the train, U.S. troops were suffering some of the worst part of the early part of the war: the retreat of our army!

The reason for the 30-day adventure was directly related to the Canadian UN troops. The Canadian government was not going to enter the war until the United Nations had declared it a Peace Action.

The REAL value of the story was not recognized by me until much later.

What Dad means is that because he had the luck to be connected with the Canadians at just that moment in time, he was “stalled” along with the Canadian troops until just after the worst danger was over.

This is how he tips his hat to the Canadians:

When playing golf now, I use a Canadian loonie to mark my golf ball.

Not being a golfer, I had to look up loonie because I might have gotten the wrong idea ;). However, it’s not about golf, but about it being Canadian. A loonie is a gold-colored Canadian one dollar piece, first created in 1987. Thank you, Wikipedia.

The U.S. Army Center of Military History has an online page devoted to the phase of the Korean War which began November 3, 1950, the day Dad landed at Inchon, the day the Chinese entered the Korean War.

Next up: I will start tackling my list, beginning with Etaples!

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I wrote about my Dad, Rudy Hanson, being a veteran of the U.S. Army in a previous post. He recently joined a Combat Veterans’ Writing Group, which meets at the local library. The Western Herald, the newspaper for Western Michigan University, just published a piece on the class and showcased the stories of a few veterans. You guessed it–my dad’s was one of those selected!

Here’s a link to the article “COMBAT VETERANS’ WRITING GROUP RECALLS PLETHORA OF WARTIME MEMORIES.”

Extra special for me is how his story connects with the piece I wrote about his mother’s sewing talent. I think you’ll enjoy his story!

Way to go, Dad!

Dad and me 1955

Dad and me 1955

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This post is dedicated to my father, Rudy Hanson.

When I was a little kid, I hung out in my dad’s basement workshop, watching him work. He kept army green sleeping bags there, and when I asked about them, he told me about trying to sleep in the freezing cold of Alaska and Korea.  He explained that he had been in the Korean War.  In the U.S. Army. I didn’t understand too much, although he shared some apocryphal stories about ears being bitten off and seeing it rain fish.

I’m not sure I understand too much more today, but I have the deepest respect for my father serving in the United States Army.

Dad looks so young in his official Army portrait. And below.

Thank you for your service, Dad! xo

My father and other veterans are honored with bricks with their names at the Rose Park Veterans Memorial Park–a memorial park which my father and the Kalamazoo Sunrise Rotary Club were instrumental in bringing to the city.

My daughter points toward her grandpa’s name on the park plaque.

And here she is by the beautiful U.S. Army memorial at the park.

At long last, my dad has the medals he earned from serving our country in the Korean War.


HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DAD!!!!

Dad has a twin brother, too–my Uncle Frank Hanson. He was in the U.S. Navy.

I hope Uncle Frank has a good Father’s Day, as well.

We’re coming up on the twins’ half birthday.  Since their birthdays are the day after Christmas, they like to celebrate in June.  I thought this was a phenomenon unique to my family, until I just this moment discovered that the event warrants a Wikipedia entry!

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