He had no exciting battle stories, but he served in both the Navy and the Army.
John Martin Maciejewski was born 26 Feb 1928, so he was 11 years old when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. His father Antoni Maciejewski had died 25 Nov 1936. John‘s older brother Tony enlisted in the United States Army 28 Mar 1941, and so did many of his cousins and their friends. Their 15 year old brother Eugene died soon after, on 3 Apr 1941. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, and the United States declared war the next day. John‘s grandmother, Veronica Maciejewski, died on 9 Dec 1943. John‘s older brother Ben enlisted in the United States Navy on 30 Dec 1943.
Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces was celebrated on 8 May 1945. (Stella Skrok‘s 14th birthday!) The Empire of Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, although the official signing was September 2, 1945.
Although he was just 17 years old, John talked his mother into signing a form that summer allowing him to enlist in the United States Navy on 4 Oct 1945. He was sent to training, but I don’t think he was ever deployed overseas, because troops were being sent home. He was released from the Navy on 15 Jul 1946. They gave him the opportunity to enlist in the Naval Reserves or something like that, but he was still a teenager, and he never followed up with the paperwork.
Although World War II was over, Wikipedia explains: “Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the closing days of World War II. In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, as a result of an agreement with the United States, and liberated Korea north of the 38th parallel. U.S. forces subsequently moved into the south. By 1948, as a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea was split into two regions, with separate governments. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither side accepted the border as permanent. The conflict escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—moved into the south on 25 June 1950.” The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea.
The regular United States troops that had remained in Europe were moved to South Korea, and were augmented and back-filled with new recruits. Because he had not followed up after his Navy service, John was eligible for the selective service draft. He obtained several deferments because he was the only son at home with his ailing widowed mother, but enlisted in the United States Army on 26 Mar 1951. He had just started training when his mother Marie Maciejewski died 6 Apr 1951, and the Army flew him home from Massachusetts to her funeral. He said later that he felt that his leaving had contributed to her death.
John was put in another cadre, and trained as an x-ray technician. Because he spoke Polish, and so many German, Polish, and other people had been displaced after the war, he was sent to serve in a U.S. Army hospital in Germany.
In September 1951, Johnny sent a postcard to his brother Tony (shared by Tony‘s son).
John was released from the Army on 13 Mar 1953.
John Maciejewski died 29 Aug 1995 and was buried at St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga, Erie, New York. Because of his service during wartime, his grave marker identified his service in both World War II and the Korean War.
Many of John‘s mother’s family served in the military, including her brother, Bernard “Barney” Szczepanski, who fought in World War I from 19 Feb 1915 to 19 Feb 1919 in the United States Navy. Multiple Szczepański, Klein, Sczepanski, and Graff cousins and their spouses served during World War II.
Of the Maciejewski cousins, John‘s cousin Daniel Warner served in the United States Army 26 Feb 1944 to 11 Dec 1945. Their cousins Henry and Louis were in the United States Navy. Henry Warner served from 10 Apr 1944 to 11 Jan 1946. Louis Warner served from 30 Sep 1942 to 13 Nov 1945.
Update: January 2023 added postcard shared by John’s brother Tony’s son.
- New York State, Department of Health, Vital Records Index, Cert. No. 10338 Buffalo, John M. Maciejewski, 26 February 1928, Albany, New York.
- Antoni Maciejewski, Dziennik dla Wszystkich [Everybody’s Daily], Buffalo, New York, 27 November 1936.
- “United States Department of Veterans Affairs,” database online, (Ancestry.com : accessed August 2017), Anthony Maciejewski, 106032610.
- Eugeniusz Maciejewski, Dziennik dla Wszystkich [Everybody’s Daily], Buffalo, New York, 4 April 1941.
- “United States Department of Veterans Affairs,” database online, (Ancestry.com : accessed August 2017), Bernard Maciejewski, SSN: 071076285.
- Buffalo, New York, death no. 1070 7361 (1943), Veronica E. Maciejewski; City Clerk’s Office, City Hall, Reclaim the Records, archive.org.
- “United States Department of Veterans Affairs,” database online, (Ancestry.com : accessed 14 August 2015), John Maciejewski,
- “United States Department of Veterans Affairs,” database online, (Ancestry.com : accessed 14 August 2015), Daniel Warner, Henry Warner, Louis Warner.