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“One of them hit right in front of me. I was by myself. And it didn’t explode. It would have blew me to kingdom come.” (Video Interview, 22:34)

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   Leroy Mzhickteno
Image of Leroy Mzhickteno
Leroy Mzhickteno [2005]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: Company E, 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division
Service Location: San Francisco, California; Camp Rucker, Alabama; Camp Butner, North Carolina; New York; Liverpool, England; Normandy, Le Mans, Nancy, France
Rank: Sergeant
Place of Birth: KS
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Leroy Mzhickteno, nicknamed Mickey, grew up on the Potawatomi Reservation in Kansas during the Depression. After graduating from high school, he joined the National Guard in 1939 to make money. He was still in the Guard on December 7, 1941, and was soon on fulltime active duty in the Army. His infantry regiment sailed from England to France shortly after D-Day, and they spent the rest of the war chasing the retreating Germans. He was wounded in the back by shell fragments during intense fighting. Patched up and sent back to his unit, he was put in charge of a group of replacements who were more interested in confiscating the food and wine in a village they captured than in pursuing the German Army.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview  (75 min.)
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Kept an amount of Indian tobacco as a way of giving him courage and used it occasionally for good luck through his tour. (01:14) On his way by ship out of New York Harbor, wasn't allowed on deck and missed seeing the Statue of Liberty; on his pass before he left, he’d missed seeing the Empire State Building because of fog; 10 days to Europe; bivouacked in small town in England; over to Normandy a month after D-Day; could see evidence of how brutal the fighting was; apprehensive about upcoming action; intense action in the hedgerows; narrow escape from a German 88 shell which fell in front of him but didn't explode. (07:42) Just as they were about to cross into Germany in the fall of 1944, caught in the back by fragments from a mortar shell; was able to move out of the area on his own to aid station; was in several hospitals in France and England; sent back when Battle of the Bulge began and the hospitals needed space for incoming casualties; returned to his own unit; as sergeant, put in charge of replacement troops; they were difficult to control, would scatter in a town to look for something to eat and drink. (08:54)
Celebrating on V-E Day with homemade liquor; doesn't remember getting back to camp; lost his hat and his ammunition belt. (01:58)  
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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