WAR LETTERS: COMBAT - 1944 Normandy


Letters about combat situations make up the largest section of the project.

1944 Normandy

Helen Chalupnik of Pine City, Minnesota, wrote this letter to Nebraska Public Radio. It is about her brother, Sergeant Leo K. Mlady. She tells us that Sergeant Mlady received the Purple Heart for the injuries she describes to us in this letter.

Sent by Helen Chalupnik regarding her brother
in Normandy, 1944
Sergeant Leo K. Mlady

Dear Nebraska Public Radio:

I read in the VERDIGRE EAGLE (newspaper from Verdigre, Nebraska) that you are seeking war letters. I was born and raised in Verdigre, Nebraska. After getting married, we moved to Pine City, Minnesota, as my husband was from Minnesota.

My brother Leo — who was in the service — lives yet in Verdigre, Nebraska. You are asking for letters written by soldiers on the Frontline to loved ones at home?

I have every letter my brother sent us from Private First Class to Corporal to Sergeant. You ask for letters of his life as a soldier. Let me tell you that a book should be written about Leo, who is now 80 years of age.

His letters were all censored before we got them. He never wrote as how he lived during his time in service. He never could. We never learned about his front line in war until about 3 years later and that was by asking him a question now and then.

Leo is a guy who loves everybody and is loved by everybody. He is one to keep things to himself and not brag like some do, getting only a scratch on the ankle and thinking he suffered in being in war.

Leo was badly hurt at Normandy Beach. He was at the head of his buddies and when in danger, he ordered his men into dug-outs, but he had to wait until his men were in. He remembers the guy was either in a tree or a barn with a roof that shot him in the face. His whole face — teeth, cheeks, were shot out, and his tongue hung loose only by a ligament.

An airplane flew to England with a plane full of wounded soldiers, and they had to put Leo under, as he just wanted to do his duty, and they pulled him in until when the plane arrived.

He was 17 months hurt in a hospital in England. His head was wired for over a year. They took care of the tongue first — thinking he'd never eat or talk again. They did correct it, but some words he can't pronounce right. He lived on baby food through a pipe leading to his stomach a year or more. He has dead nerves in both of his legs and on and on.

He said they lived like pigs, if not worse, as it rained every day and they lived in dug-outs which were filled with rain. They even threw away their rations. because they were too heavy to carry.

And yet for all he went through, he's happy he's alive. He suffers at times with bad headaches. and his back is very bad. He walks stooped. He's afraid to have his back corrected. because two of his buddies had surgery and are in wheelchairs.

I could write so much more, but you can see a picture. He fought where he took the life of a soldier who was going towards him down a hill. It was either one would loose his life, but he did use his bayonet. It hurts him yet.

During this time, he never got home to see our Daddy, failing in health, and didn't get home for the funeral, which hurts him so. I took pictures of the funeral. and he can't see them yet as how it hurts him.

I'll tell you a book could be written, as I have much more I still ask of him. When he came home. he had severe headaches and went for help to a hospital in Omaha. and he had to sleep in the lobby. They wouldn't admit him as a soldier. because his papers were lost as a soldier. I don't write about that as that's another edition to the book. Ha, ha.

His letters were all censored. so he only wrote about the weather, going to church, maybe town, etc. and thanking for writing. When so badly wounded. he picked up an art of making rugs for all of us and some doctors, as he said he had to — otherwise he would have went crazy.

So read for yourself what a life my brother had in the service and yet is happy he got home to see us all. Our prayers must have helped. We lost a nephew also at Normandy.

I'm so near being 89, so please excuse my writing and spelling. "My voice is strong but my flesh is weak." Thank you for this opportunity.

Yours truly,

Helen Chalupnik
sister to Leo



WWII, North Africa          1944 Orland to Naples
1950 Korea          1944 Germany
1944 Normandy          1945 England
Vietnam War,  Okinawa          1970 Vietnam