Leonard Kratcoski was born in 1925 in Mildred, PA, to a coal miner. After having spent much of his childhood working to overcome the troubles of the Depression-era United States, he enlisted in the Navy in March 1943. In 1944, Kratcoski finally saw action when he was deployed in the Marshall Islands as part of the Fourth Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre. After ousting the Japanese from several airstrips on the islands, Kratcoski’s outfit eventually was assigned to fight in Saipan, part of the Marianas Island chain. On the first day of combat there, shrapnel from a fragmentation grenade thrown by a Japanese troop struck him. After being awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries, he was assigned to the construction of runways in the South Pacific. After the atom bombs were dropped in Japan, “Jumpin’ Joe” returned to the US, later joining the Army Air Corps and holding several jobs in coalmines and at an airport in California. Eventually he joined the Army and served his nation in the post-war world, retiring in 1970 as a Green Beret.
Today, Kratcoski lives in Sullivan County, and volunteers at the Endless Mountains War Memorial Museum. He still holds the memories of his 22 years in the United States military, in which he served all four branches.
Double click the movie below for Leonard's story.