Michael Glisczinski grew up on a farm before being drafted into the Army on February 8. 1951. He was sent to basic training before taking a ship to Korea by way of Yokohama. He served as a tank mechanic, which was a “big job.” He describes how they had to sometimes fix the tanks in the middle of combat. While he does not want to revisit Korea, he is proud of his service during the war.
Being a Tank Mechanic
Michael Glisczinski explains what his duties were during the Korean War. As a tank mechanic he had a “big job” to do with the assistance of a helper from Nebraska. He explains that he was in charge of keeping 5 tanks going to support the war effort.
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Fixing Tanks on the Front Lines
Michael Glisczinski explains what it was like trying to work on a tank while the enemy was firing artillery. He states that they had to wait until night to try to get the tanks fixed before heading back to his company. He recalls that the most problems they experienced were with the batteries in the tanks.
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[Beginning of Recorded Material]
My name is Michael C. Glisczinski. And I was born on 9/10/28, in (Gurnee) Township. And been raised on a farm. And . . . went to school for 12 years.
And therefore a, my mother passed away and I helped my dad with the rest of the family, and ’til I was, finally got drafted and I went in the service when I was about 24. I went, I was
drafted in the Army on February the 8th, 1951. Went to Minneapolis, was sworn in. And sent us by train to Fort Lewis, Washington. And, I was there about five days and then they put us on a plane and took, over to Camp Rucker, Alabama. And I was
there in training for, ’til November of ’51. Then I got, what you, what do you wanna say, I- I had to go to, I had to go to Korea again.
When you were drafted, where did you do your training at?
M: My training was Camp Rucker, Alabama, and I was there until
November, middle of N-November. Then, went home for 14 days and there, from there on I was, had orders to go to Camp Stoneman, California and there, they put us, there about 2-3 days, and they put on a ship, and went on the General
Gordon and it was 14 days to Yokohama, Japan. I was there about five days and then got put on another ship and was, sailed to Korea.
I: What was the date that you arrived in Korea?
M: I arrived in Korea, I think it was the 19thof January 1952. And, I was there until November
when I had enough, accrued enough points to go home. And, so left the day, the day before Thanksgiving. We got on a ship at Inchon, Korea and headed home and, of course, stopped in Japan, for, I think it was another five days and had to wait for another
ship to go to the United States, back home. And, I got home, we got to Seattle, Washington, is, the 20-, I think it was the 20-, 23rdof December of ’52. I was released from the Army, and, because I served my term, and so, then they
got on a, since I was discharged, I was thinking to g-get home as soon as I possibly can. [laughs] And, so I, we got on a plane the 24thof December, and I got home Christmas Day. 10:00 we landed in Wilt Chamberlain and, I don’t know how my dad knew about it. Anyway, he must have figured I’d probably on the plane and, so he was there waiting for me. And we got home
and, and, and had Christmas dinner together. And, and I was going with a nice lady and, and so the next thing was I had to go to see, go and see her and she lived here, her friends, her parents lived her in St. Peter. And,
so, I went over there to see her and met her and boy it was a, a joyous moment. [laughs] ‘Cause I hadn’t seen her over a year.
I: So, where did you arrived in Korea?
M: Arrived in Korea, I think it was the 14thof January 1952.
I: And where at?
M: Inchon. And, then I, the, the s-, the ocean was so shallow th-,
there, they couldn’t come in with big ships, so they had to put us, send us in with small boats. And got out to Inchon and, and put us on a train there. There was no heater anything, just had to wait ’til the train got going. It took us to 3rdReplacement Company and from there they got me into a company that was in the tank business. I was a mechanic for tanks. And
so, anyway, that’s where they sent me. Since I was a tank mechanic, they wanted, they, that’s, they had a, really had a place for me. So, that, I was sent to the tank division. 3rd, 3rd, 3rdDivision, 15thTank Company. So, that was there for my whole
time, while I was in Korea.
I: And, so, what were your duties like?
M: My duties were, in Korea? I was a mechanic, and I was in charge of five tanks. And, I had a helper that, friend that he came from, he was actually from Nebraska. And he came there, I got there in January and he came in April.
We, we worked tog-, when he came, well, he joined me and we worked on these five tanks to keep ’em going. That was a big job. [laughs] Sometimes we had to go up on the front, towards the front lines where they’d be situated and have to work on tanks right up when they were on the firing line.
I: Can you tell me about some of those experiences?
M: Some what?
I: Can you tell me about some of those experiences?
M: Experience? Oh, we were about, the comp-, the area was standing about two miles back of the, the line of fire, or, and there was times when we’d go up there to work on a tank that the North Koreans
were firing artillery in. And, so we had to kind of wade around and we would stay in the bunker until it’d get dark. It’d start getting dark and we could do our job what we had to do and then we’d motor back home, to the, back to the company. [laughs]
I: So, you were trying to fix the tank in the dark?
M: Yeah, we had to do it in the dark. Yeah. Well, actually, we knew
about what had to be done, and it didn’t take that long. The problems, the most problems we had was with batteries. The batteries would get weak and the, the engines wouldn’t start, so we’d have to use a generator to get ’em going.
I: Where exactly were you stationed at that time?
M: Where was I stationed there? I don’t really know.
The, ’cause the, there was no town around or anything. So, I think we were in the Chorwon Valley. I, and, there was nothing there but just the normal ground or land and so, anyway, there was no towns.
I: What did you know about Korea before you went?
M: I didn’t know anything about Korea, not a thing.
I: So, what did you think when you got your orders to go over there?
M: Well, when I got my orders, I just figured, well, I’m going overseas. And, and they didn’t really tell me I was going
to Korea, but anyway that’s where I went, ’cause that’s where the war was.
I: And what was it like where you were stationed?
M: Where I was stationed? Well, it was just rough country, mountainous and, there wasn’t anything there far as buildings or anything. It was just plain land where we were. We st-, we stayed
in a, well we had a 12 man tent, 12 men could st-stay in this tent. And then when we had to move, why, you had to take the tent down and move it along with you and then set it up in the new area where you were going. We always went to a different spot and, and then from there, the tanks would work on, they’d take care of their job.
I: Where were you when the armistice was signed?
M: Um, General Eisenhower was our president at that time and he called for a peace. And, it wasn’t actually a armistice, it was just a, a, I can’t think what you call it.
I: A ceasefire
right. And, so far it is that way yet today. And, I was about halfway home on the ship when that happened. [laughs]
I: What did it feel like when you received the news?
M: Yes, I was glad to be where I was. [laughs]
I: What was kind of the general reaction?
M: Oh, everybody was
happy that, the war was, actually the fighting had ended. And, all, so, when, when I didn’t do mechanical work on the tanks, we had to help with hauling the fuel to these tanks, and it was all in trucks, with five-gallon cans. [laughs] And, also the ammunition, we had to haul those. They had 90mm shells in ’em and
we had to help ’em haul the ammunition up there to the tra-, to the tanks. [laughs] So, we were usually busy.
I: So, when did you depart Korea?
M: I departed, I got on the ship the 24thof, I think it was the 24thof November. Anyway, it was the day be-, the day before Thanksgiving. And we had our big turkey
dinner on the ship. And good fresh milk. That was the, we always, all we had in, in Korea, was powdered milk. [laughs] So, it was, that was really good.
I: So you departed Korea Nov-, about November 24thof 1952?
I: So, when you were, you said you were on the ship when the armistice was signed in the summer of 1953. Were, did you continue in the service?
M: Was it what?
I: Did you, were you still in the, continuing in the service?
M: I was still in the service, yeah. See, when I got to, back into the States when we landed, then I went back to Fort Lewis, Washington again, where I had first came, when I came in the service,
I got my clothing and everything in Fort Lewis. When, when going home, same way, I went through Fort Lewis again and from there I went home.
I: What was the date of your military release?
M: The 24thof December. The day before I got home. I got
home the, the 25th, which was Christmas Day.
I: Of what year?
M: 25th, I don’t know what day it was, but it was the 25thof December, 1952. Yep.
I: After your military release, what did you go on to do?
M: Well, I got a job for a while in St. Paul working in a
manufacturing place. And they were building cabs for draglines. And, so I worked there for a couple of weeks and, and they went broke. So, I lost the job there. So, then I got a new job with (Westerun), or, well anyway, I got a new job but. And
my wife to be was a, she was nurse and she was working at St. Joe’s Hospital. And, so, I kinda stayed kinda close to be with her as much as possible because we were thinking about getting married. And, so then the ne-, in February we had our wedding. The 7thday of February 1953. Yeah.
I: So what is Korea to you now?
M: They have, what do you want to call it, programs where you can go back to visit Korea, but I don’t really have any, any feeling to go. Because I feel it’s probably more modern today than it was when I was there, and so I wouldn’t get anything out of it.
I: How did your military
service and wartime experience, how has that affected the rest of your life?
M: Oh, it didn’t seem to interfere at all with the rest of my life. I had good contacts with family and my brothers and sisters and, and with my wife to be and, and
so, everything went well.
I: Is there any kind of a like message or word of wisdom that you can pass on to younger generations?
M: Well, my feelings, today I get, I get so many letters in the mail, where they want donations and they want ar-, to send them articles, because
this, some of these soldiers need this to take care of themselves. But, when I was in the service, I didn’t have anything like that. We lived what, what we, what we had there, and, and that was it. And, that’s what I feel now, I says, why should I have to be, I get these letters everyday in the mail every day in the mail and sometimes I get a pile of letters that high. 20-25 letters and I think
they should be able to take care of themselves and do as best they can. That’s what I did.
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