From Latvia To Korea: The Story Of A WWII Refugee And Korean War Paratrooper
Olgerts Sniedze was born in Latvia in 1932, the son of a chemical engineer and a teacher. During WWII, the Germans occupied Latvia early in 1941, and young Ogy and his family grew up under the German occupation. As the tide began to turn against the Nazis, the Sniedze family started to retreat to the west to stay away from the advancing Soviets. Olgerts’ father had already traveled to Germany in his capacity as an engineer. On April 20, 1945, the Sniedzes were liberated by the British. It took over five years to get to the United States, and Olgerts arrived in America in October, 1950. In 1952, he joined the Army and volunteered for Airborne training. He was initially assigned to the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 11th Airborne Division, but was soon transferred to Camp Wood in Japan, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. By this time, the 187th was stationed on the front lines in bunkers. After redeploying from Korea and leaving the Army, he finished his education, earning a civil engineering degree.
In this interview, he describes his childhood and his time in the Army. He recalls the beginning of WWII and the German occupation, as well as fleeing to the west to avoid the Soviets, and remembers surviving air raids and living with German families. He discusses his entry into the Army and becoming a paratrooper. Finally, he reminisces about what his service means to him.