On this Veteran's Day, I would like to take the opportunity to thank two American soldiers for their service: my grandfather, Nicholas Mitsock, and my dad, David W. Hoptak.
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Private First Class Nicholas Mitsock
My grandfather, Nicholas Mitsock, was a first-generation American. He was born on April 7, 1927, in the small coal mining community of Llewellyn in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. He entered the army on December 10, 1945, at the age of 18, and was mustered in as a private in the Headquarters Company, 30th US Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division. He was sent to Europe, and was detailed as a truck driver and truck mechanic. He remained stationed at Stuttgart, Germany, until his discharge in April 1947. He returned to Schuylkill County, found work as a coal miner, married my grandmother, and fathered five children; my mother, Colleen, being born in 1951.
In 1957, my grandfather was killed in a mine collapse.
My grandfather's discharge paper. . .
Nick Mitsock, playin' ball for the Branch Township team. . .
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Sergeant David W. Hoptak
My dad, David Hoptak, was born on July 30, 1946. He graduated high school in 1965, turned 19, and was promptly drafted into the US Army. He did his basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and trained with the M42 tank at Fort Bliss, Texas. In late 1966, he was sent to Vietnam as a soldier in the 1st Battalion, 44th Artillery. He spent the next year stationed at Con Thien, immediately south of the DMZ. He rose to the rank of sergeant, and commanded an M-42 Twin Duster tank. While stationed at Con Thien, his tank battalion was supported by the 3rd US Marine Division, and saw significant combat. The 1st/44th was one of the most highly decorated units in the Vietnam War. In December 1967, my dad was discharged from the army. He boarded the plane at Dong Ha, and began the long journey home.
My dad at Con Thien. . .
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Happy Veteran's Day. And to all our current and former members of the armed services, thank you.