Korean War Legacy Project

Cyril Kubista


Cyril Kubista spent most of his days as a young boy working on the farm while gaining wisdom in his grandfather’s saw mill business. There was little talk about Korea before the war, but after it began there was concern that it would escalate into a new World War. Throughout his journey in the Army, he was elated to be given the opportunity by his commander to bring his new wife along with him. Soon after being drafted and sent to basic training, his daughter was born. By 1953, he was stationed in Washington as an Instructor of Wheel Vehicle Mechanics of the Regimental Headquarters Company. He never anticipated his service would direct him to become a teacher at the Department of Corrections for over twenty-seven years. He was very grateful for his time in the service and for those who risked so much for Korea during the war.

Video Clips

Bring Your Wife With You

Cyril Kubista discusses his commander discovering he was a newlywed and impressing on him the importance of being present for the birth of his first child He describes moving his wife closer to him and being there for the birth of his daughter. He shares how each weekend he was allowed to leave camp at noon on Saturday and return on Sunday evening. On top of this, he explains how his wife was allowed to travel with him throughout his service.

Tags: Basic training

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The Influence of Korea

Cyril Kubista was impressed with the Korean community and the impact it made on his life. He never imagined it would give him the experiences and expertise necessary to become a twenty-seven year veteran teacher of small engine repair in a correctional facility. Furthermore, he believes the Korean work ethic and culture is fabulous because of the gratitude for those that helped during the war. He believes every man should be required to serve in the military to help them grow up.

Tags: Civilians,Home front,Impressions of Korea

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Active in Local Veteran Chapter

Cyril Kubista explains how Korean War veterans often felt when returning home from service. He describes being expected to "go home, shut up, and go to work" and they were not welcomed by World War II veterans. Because of these experiences, he discusses how some veterans formed their own local chapter so they could talk about the past and have a good time.

Tags: Home front,Pride

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

C:        Cyril.

I:          C

C:        Y-R-I-L

I:          R-I-L

C:        K-U-B-I-S-T-A, Kubista.  My grand, my grandparents, both of them came over here when they were teenagers.

I:          Um hm.

C:        I think, uh, 13 and 15.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Uh, they didn’t know each other, but they came over on actually two different boats and, uh, they actually ended up in Owatonna, Minnesota.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And, uh, uh, they actually walked


the railroad I think, uh, stopped at Dubuque, Iowa.  There was no railroad up in this area back then.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And, and they actually walked from Dubuque, Iowa to Owatonna and, uh, they

I:          How long is that?

C:        Oh my.  That’s gotta be 150 miles, 60 miles.

I:          Walk?

C:        Yeah.  Well, they had actually a trail, uh.  My aunt said they actually had a trail


where they would stop over at different farms would keep them till, they would keep them overnight and feed them,

I:          Um hm.

C:        and, and so they ended up being in Owatonna in, my grandpa, uh, was a farmer, and he actually had the first saw mill

I:          Hm.

C:        in the area because it was all trees.  The, Steele County at that time was all trees and that and so they had, and, and grassland, and they had to cut the trees down to get more farmland and


to build the homes and that there, and so he actually built his own, uh, sawmill and cut lumber for, for the, for the farm buildings and, uh, and he was very instrumental in my life, I feel, because he could sharpen a saw.  He could tell, he could tell from, uh, 500’ away if that saw was cutting right.  He would stop the operator


and that there, and he would take his file out, and he would file that.  And when that, and actually it was a, that saw blade would sing, and when that had that right sing to it, then, then, that was right.

I:          Are there many Czechs here in Minnesota?

C:        Oh yes.  Uh, there’s, there’s quite a bunch in New Ulm, Minnesota.  They’re around the Mankato area and, uh, um, well, let’s see. That’s probably the biggest area

I:          Um hm.


that’s part of the Czechs and that there.  And the thing about it, kind of the funny thing about it is that, uh, I was full blood Czech, and, uh.

I:          100%?

C:        100% and that there, and it was kind of, not told me directly, but it was kind of hinted that you were supposed to marry another Czech and not spoil the blood line.

I:          Full.

C:        Yeah.  And that there.  But, uh, anyhow, I started dating this one girl and that there,


and we were farmers, and we were baling hay, and her, uh, the wife now and that there, uh, we actually rode the school bus together.  But anyhow, we went and baled hay for, uh, uh, her dad and, uh, that’s the first time my dad met her and that there, and I think she was 17 and I was 19 and that there, and, and uh, so they feed you when you, when you’re doing


I:          Job.

C:        commercial dealing.  So anyhow we went and had dinner and, uh, we came out and there was my dad.  Dad never said too much, but he said she’s a good cook, and that there,

I:          [LAUGHS]

C:        and I thought well, that must mean something right there.  So, and

I:          Is she Czech?

C:        She is part Czech and, and mostly German.

I:          Tell me about your birthdate and where were you born?

C:        Uh, June 6, uh, June 18th, 1933, West Concord, Minnesota.  My dad was very,


very stickler for farming, using no chemicals

I:          Um hm.

C:        and, uh, and, you know, and everything had to be, like he always said the whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead,

I:          Yeah, right.

C:        you know, and then

I:          I know.

C:        and it had to be homemade bread, you know.

I:          Yeah.

C:        So, [Abrupt Start] six, seven years old and going out in the woods and picking choke cherries.

I:          Tell me about the school you went through in West Concord.

C:        Well, I, uh, went to country schools for the first eight years

I:          Um hm.


C:        and then I went to high school in West Concord and graduated there in 1951.

I:          So, um, when you were in high school, you heard about the Korean War broke out?  Did you?

C:        Uh, in ’50, you know, uh, I don’t remember it being talked about that much until, uh, after I graduated and went to work at the Ford Garage on Owatonna

I:          Um hm.

C:        and after, then people


were talking about it.

I:          Oh.

C:        But, it, it seemed like, to me, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t remember.  But, uh, then it started getting talked about, and then I got drafted in ’53.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And so, but, uh, um, why, way it was talked about it, everybody kind of thought it was gonna be over tomorrow,

I:          Oh.

C:        you know.  The, I, I think they, uh, that’s the way the news kind of, kind


of pushed it that way, that it was just kind of like a, like a skirmish.  But boy, the poor guys over there.  Wow, especially the beginning.

I:          You were draft ed.

C:        Yes.

I:          But you told me that you were married, right?

C:        Yes.  [Abrupt Start] drafted June 12.

I:          Um hm.  ’53

C:        Yeah.

I:          you were drafted.

C:        Yeah.

I:          What were you thinking?  Being drafted

C:        I, I was, I was, I was upset.  Uh, I probably had a chip on my shoulder, I, because I had to go,


and I was, you know, really kind of upset about it, and that there, and I was shipped to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, and then from there, um

I:          Fort?

C:        Sheridan.

I:          Could you S-H-E-R-I-D-A-N-?

C:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

C:        Illinois, and then from there, uh, got shipped to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And, um,

I:          You got the basic training there?

C:        Yeah, basic, got basic training there.


And when, when, uh, I went, I, I was Catholic and that there, and I went to mass and that there and then, uh, the priest that, you know, all you new recruits, this was about the third week I think, in basic training, uh, he said I’d like to talk to you new recruits, and then we just sat around, had coffee and we’re talking, and he looked, and I had a wedding ring on, and he said you married?  And I said yes and that there.  Are you RA?


And I said no, I’m U.S.  I says they drafted me.  Really? And he says well, anyhow, that’s about all that was said about it and that there, and, uh, uh, then about the seventh week in basic training, the company commander called me in and said, um, I can’t believe they drafted you, but he

I:          Why?  Because it wasn’t customary or it was a rule that the married man


not supposed to be drafted?

C:        Well, I, I think it was, depending on location, uh, I think you’re gonna find that probably the, the biggest draft that happened in Olmsted County here was in 1953.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Cause I think they had figured that there was gonna be another World War,

I:          Um.

C:        And I think they figured this was gonna probably escalate, and they were really kind of bringing the

I:          Hm.

C:        because


a lot of, lot of, uh, uh, um, guys I graduated with, um, got pretty near all drafted, and some went to Germany, um, some went to, one of them went to France, you know. They were shipped all over and, of course, then, uh, but I ended up, uh, there, and then I, they ended up putting me in Wheel Vehicle Mechanic school


and then into some engineering and, uh, anyhow this, uh,

I:          So let me ask this question.

C:        Sure.

I:          Um, so people asking you really you were drafted while you were married, and what happened to you?  Did the Commander ask you to bring your

C:        Well, yeah.  The

I:          Tell me about that story because I’m very interested in that at.

C:        Well, about the seventh week, he says I’ll tell you what, he says.


You can bring, I’ll give you a three or four-day pass, go back to Minnesota and, uh, bring your wife down here if you want and that there because he says I think that, uh, you, your first baby, your first born, you should be around

I:          Um hm.

C:        and that there.  [Abrupt Start] Because we were a regimental motor pool

I:          Uh huh.,

C:        we done, uh, uh, we had to go six weeks in, uh, Yakima Firing Center which is a desert.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And we had to, uh, be out there


on maneuvers and, uh, so that, and we were always their dresser force.  So but anyhow, that was, that’s where I got my eardrums broke.

I:          You were picked up as a instructor Fort Lewis, Washington.  What instructor were you picked up?

C:        Uh  [INAUDIBLE] they sent over to the main fort and that there, and I think it was instructor for, uh, automotive or for wheel vehicle mechanics
I:          I see.

C:        because we had passed so high in the class

I:          Um hm, um hm.


Were you with your wife when you were in Washington?

C:        Yeah, because I was in a, uh, I actually was in headquarters, headquarters, in Headquarters Company, uh, and running the regimental motor pool.  They, he allowed me to come home and pick, pick her up, so I took the same trailer and the same ’50 Ford and took her out there and we lived off post.

I:          When did you finish your military service? 1950

C:        1955.

I:          5.

C:        June of ’55.


I:          So you saying that your service and your experience in the Army really did, uh, very important influence upon your life.

C:        Yes.  Very important.  I’ll tell you why; because I’d a bet you all the money in the world when, uh, before, uh, I, I would say, uh, before I went in the service, right before I


went into the service, I was gonna end up doing 27 years of teaching, you know.  I, that was the furthest thing from my mind of being a teacher.

I:          Twenty-seven years.

C:        Yeah.  I, I worked for Department Corrections in Minnesota.  Department of Corrections, yeah.

I:          That’s, that’s great, yeah?  You

C:        Well.

I:          never imagined to be a teacher, right?

C:        No.

I:          No.

C:        Never.  No, I, that was the


furthest thing from my mind.  Furthest thing from my mind, so.

I:          Um hm, um hm.

C:        And, and they, I could tell every time, uh, I read, I meet one of my old students who, who’d gotten in trouble and that there and came through the system and then is out working now and that there. They’ll holler Mr. Kubista

I:          Um hm.

C:        When I see that I go uh oh.  That’s one of my old students because that was a, that was protocol.  You had to call you Mr.

I:          Let me ask this question.  Even though you were not in Korean


theater during the War, but still you are the Korean War veteran, what is Korea to you?

C:        Uh, fabulous.

I:          Why?

C:        Why?  It, what they have done, what the Korean people have taken from what it was, from pictures I’ve seen and what the guys that told me and that they’re now, there and, uh, and, and, it’s, it’s just, it seemed like the culture of the Korean


uh, people are, is so much gratitude and, and, uh, it makes me feel so good that, for the people who gave their all over there, that it was worth it.

I:          Um hm.  That’s great.

C:        You know, even though it took two years out of my life which was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,

I:          [LAUGHS]

C:        but, uh,


I think all, I, I feel that I think military, you ought to have at least, uh, 20 months, 15 months of military training just for every, uh, every male and that there.  I, you, you, you get a chance to grow up.

I:          I’m so glad that I have chance to do talk to you, and thank you, uh, for sharing your stories, and

C:        Well, thank you for what you’re doing.

[End of Recorded Material]