Birthday: November 05, 1915
Birthplace: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Family: John and Magdalene Simkowski
Occupation: Opened and operated Rapids Surplus
Unit: 53rd Infantry
Rank: Supply Sergeant
Stan Simkowski was 26 years of age when he enlisted into World War II. When he first heard news of the war he was in Chicago and enlisted right away. After his enrollment, he was immediately transported to Camp Robertson in California for basic training. While in California, he intended on being a flying cadet, but before he was ready to go out with his outfit, they left, this forced him to stay back on the base.
In December of 1941, Stan was supposed to take a vacation back to Chicago from training in California, to see his family. However, before they could get on the plane, they found out that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. His vacation was immediately canceled.
After this, he was sent to the Aleutian Islands, which are located near Alaska. Here he would spend the next three and a half years of his seemingly endless military life. His island did get bombed a few times and also had a run-in with a Japanese submarine. Stan also went on many patrolling runs to the other islands. His recollection of one trip stands out from the others, as they were getting ready to leave an un-expected storm came into the island region. They could no longer leave, which was a good thing Stan mentioned because otherwise they would've been "eliminated."
Stan started out the war as a private, but was soon moved to a supply sergeant. A supply sergeant was in charge of handing out the supplies and making sure that everyone had everything they needed. Some of these supplies included clothes, shoes, food, rifles, cigarettes, and liquor. On one occasion, Stan went to one of the local boats near the island that sold liquor. The liquor on this boat was sold for $25 a quart and on land it was sold for $2.95. They did this to make more of a profit. Stan bought $5,000 worth of liquor. Apparently, the reason for this was that there weren't many other things that you could buy.
The enlisted men got $21 a month, but $6.80 of that went to their $10,000 life insurance. In the end, the government didn't give any of the veterans what they deserved after the war. "Not a penny" says Stan; "they should have done more."
The main reason that these men were in the Aleutian Islands was to protect the supplies. It was an easy place for the U.S. to reach the supplies, although they were near Russia. The supplies never ran out and he figures they are probably still there.
The supplies that the men carried were standard. All the bags weighed 30 pounds and included a pup-tent, a shovel, and canned rations, which were "terrible, but kept you alive." Each soldier also had an M-1 rifle and a belt, which included a first aid kit, a canteen, and a beignet.
After being overseas for three and a half years, Stan was transported to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. There he trained the new recruits for two years until he was discharged. He then went back to his hometown of Stevens Point. While home he commuted back and forth to Wisconsin Rapids as he built the Rapids Surplus Store, which he ran for 20 years. Stan is currently living in Wisconsin Rapids.
under Learn and Serve American Grant #00LSFWI104