James Szymanski, veteran of 3 wars

April 22, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

James Szymanski, whose military career spanned both world wars and the Korean War, died Sunday of cardiac arrest at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary's County, where he had been a resident since 1986. He was 96.

Born in Plosk, Poland, he came to Baltimore with his family in 1902 and settled on a farm near Bear Creek.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1915 and was a marksman and rifle instructor, winning medals in many shooting competitions.

He was sent to France in August 1918 to train riflemen. "We were in St. Nazaire, ready to go to the front, and then the war ended," he was quoted as saying in a 1993 article in The Sun.

He was discharged from the Marines in 1919 and joined the Maryland National Guard as a master sergeant in the 29th Division in 1924.

He was a military hospital administrator for the Guard in Texas when World War II broke out. He was sent to Los Angeles, where he met Ronald Reagan, later president, at the Los Angeles Port of De-embarkation during a war bond drive, according to a son, Henry S. Szymanski of Hamilton.

In June 1945, he was sent to France as a military postmaster, and in 1946 he was promoted to captain in the Reserves. In 1950, he reverted to the rank of warrant officer and was discharged in 1952 during the Korean War.

He was active in veterans affairs and was a founding member of Gen. Joseph Haller Post No. 95 of the American Legion on Fleet Street. He was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

For many years after World War II, he was a volunteer interpreter, helping Polish immigrants who arrived in Baltimore, according to his son.

He married the former Mildred Rosiak in 1928, and the couple made their home in Hamilton. She died in 1955.

Graveside services were set for 11 a.m. today at St. Stanislaus Cemetery, 6515 Boston St.

In addition to his son, survivors include six grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces.

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