In 1941, the Army drafted Thomas Kochanek to become a medic. After training, Kochanek spent most of his time in New Guinea with the 107th Medical Battalion. As a medic, he provided immediate medical care to men wounded on the front lines. He carried a pack filled with medical supplies, such as band-aids and morphine, and sometimes had to carry litters and transport men to a hospital.
It was a dangerous job, and Kochanek remembered the Japanese often targeting medics and officers. As a result, he refused to wear his medic helmet, preferring a bandana instead.
After two years in New Guinea, Kochanek went to the Philippines. At one point during this campaign, his group of medics faced mortar attacks. Kochanek sustained a minor injury and received a Purple Heart. After fighting in the Philippines, Kochanek went to Japan after the war ended, and soon discharged and sent home.
After serving, Kochanek found work at Cadillac, and retired after 30 years. He died in 2008.
We honor his service.
More of his story can be found at: http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.04321/.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Kaylee Hogsed
Fact checker: Vivian Hurney
Graphic artist: Lilian Vo