Heroes: the Army
"...he tells of when a bullet whizzed by his head so close he thought he had been hit. Everything went black, only to realize that his helmet was covering his face. He often talks about walking across France and how to this day he has bad feet..."
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. B., 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division
- Dates: 20 Jan. 1943 - 4 Oct. 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1908
- Entered Service: California, PA
Andy Soyko, 134th Regiment, 35th Division WW II photo
Andy Soyko, recent image at age of 94 years
Andy was born July 8, l908 in California, Penn.
He moved to Detroit Michigan in 1928. He was drafted into the Army January 1943, at the age of 34. He was inducted January 20, 1943 from Fort Custer Michigan. He was a Private First Class in the 35th Infantry 134th and in company B.
He saw thirty three months service in the infantry. Five months were on the front lines near St. Lo and Nancy France. He remembers carrying a wounded soldier from a burning building and often wonders if the young guy made it home.
On a lighter side he tells of when a bullet whizzed by his head so close he thought he had been hit. Everything went black, only to realize that his helmet was covering his face. He often talks about walking across France and how to this day he has bad feet.
He was wounded by shrapnel, but says he doesn't remember much of it.
On December 12, 1944 while in Habkerchen, Germany he and two buddies were taken prisoners by the Nazis. Later the whole company was captured. During the four months he spent as a prisoner of war, he was moved to a different camp each month. He recalls that while at Luckenwald some 32 odd miles from Berlin, he could hear the city getting bombed nightly. The guards treated him pretty good while he was a prisoner. He figured it was his age, because the guards often made remarks about him being so old and just a Private First Class. The meals he received while imprisoned weren't exactly banquet fare, and he lost 70 pounds during the time he was held captive. He tells of being served tea for breakfast, carrot soup for lunch, and bread, butter and jam for supper. He also remembers a peculiar mixture of boiled barley and jam that was served on Wednesdays. It would make him sick if he would eat it now, but back then it tasted mighty good when he was hungry. To this day he won't eat carrots in anything.
He was freed when the American lines neared Heldensleben. He was taken to a tent camp at LeHarve, France. He flew in a plane for the first time on that trip, and sat on the floor of the plane with his head covered. He was really afraid. He finally got up toward the end of the flight and looked out. It was so beautiful that to this day he can kick himself for being so afraid.
He eventually came home on the troop ship "General Meigs". As a cook's helper on board ship during the journey home, he managed to consume large amounts of chicken and ice cream.
Andy was discharged from the service October 4, 1945 from Fort Custer Michigan.
134th Infantry Regiment
Information and photographs of Mr. Andy Soyko was generously provided to World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words by the proud daughter to Mr. Soyko, Ms. Pam Bramhill of Lincoln Park, Michigan.
Original Story submitted on 10 May 2002.
Story added to website on 10 May 2002.
September 5, 2002.
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