Senior Resources » Assisted Living » Veterans Interview: Chuck Olmstead talks with Sgt. Karl Knaack

Veterans Interview: Chuck Olmstead talks with Sgt. Karl Knaack

Veterans Interview with Sgt. 1st class, E7 Karl Knaack with the U.S. Army, at Patriot’s Landing in DuPont, Washington. Knaack was a draftee in 1952 who served in Korea. He was born in the Seattle area in 1931, one of nine children. His wife Marylou was also interviewed.

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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

This special Answers for Elders podcast honoring military veteran is sponsored by CareAge. For more information about CareAge, the website is My name is Chuck Holmstead and we’re at Patriots Landing here in Dupont Washington, and with me today is Karl Knaack. And Karl, you are a Sergeant First Class E seven in the US army back in Korea. Is that correct? Correct, as a draftee, you are a dressing fifty two, one thousand nineteen fifty two. So I want to go back in here a little bit about your story. You grew up around here in the Seattle area, in ordering out in a valley area. Wow, so what year was? What year were you born then? ’31, 1931. So I’m running of nine, one of nine. So you were kind of a Depression baby, correct. Yeah, born during some of the tough parts of the Depression. Right. What was life like back there when you were five, six years old? You remember those times in the in the valley? Good. When I would born was in twenty nine thirty. My Dad went to bill or wagon in Norm Alaska and I wouldn’t even worked down the state. He went to Alaskan work, worked two summers and we had a farm in Washington, Outorg in Washington. And that’s what we grew up with to school. So when your father would go up to Alaska, of course he would leave the family back here in Washington and he’d go up there there for the summers. Correct. And what would what did he do up there? He drove an ore wagon, okay, so called gold or gold or so, working up in the gold mines up there. Yeah, yeah, so, so what was life like for you as a young boy in the Pualla valley there in the in the s? Well, it was. It was tough those night of us. We didn’t have a hell, we didn’t have a lot of money. We had a farm, least we we knew, we’ve learned how to work, evasion enf we could eat. Yeah, and you are one of nine. So what was what was? What was? What were you growing out there on the farm? We buries and cows, and cows and sold its old canned milk. Yeah, well, I suppose even as a young child in those days, especially with your father being as busy as he was, you had to learn to work as a young as a young lad. I could milk cows at ten years old. Wow, wow, what a story, a good story. Mat fact, I have the ladder a lantern in my you know, our our place here, and I carried to the barn when I was a kid. Can’t a years old. Interesting. Yeah. So then, of course, back in thirty one, so you would have remembered, obviously the start of World War 2 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a part of your memory back then. Yeah, because my older brother got drafted. I see. So he got drafted into World War Two. He was in Germany, here in Germany. Yeah, was that tough? Now you mentioned to me your name is Karl Knaack and, which is a German name. Was there some animosity towards your family being of German descent? Well, yeah, because my Mom and Dad they had a register. Yeah, and at that time we know it was kind of surprising that my brother been my mom dad born in Germany, that he got shipped to Germany. That’s, which you’d very, very unusual. Yeah, did he know the language was at one of the did you know German? But folk did? Yeah, I didn’t. I did, but forgot it. Yeah, but your brother. But your brother could speak Germans, so they might have used that during the war because he was he was a German speaker. Possibly, yeah, but he he was into fighting over there and he made it back home. Yeah, so during World War Two you would have been twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old. And so what was life like then during the war? A lot of rations going on, it was yeah, and I remember having to turn to the black I couch and stuff, the houses and stuff, and it wasn’t we didn’t have a car because my dad warned. My dad was going anywhere in summer the wintertime and had a model t and that was it interesting. Yeah. Well, I don’t think a lot of people realize having grown up in the Midwest, there wasn’t that much discussion about blackouts because we were in the middle of the country and there wasn’t as much concerned about the Japanese attacking, you know, from the West Coast, but here in Washington state and and Alaska especially, that was certainly a big concern, wasn’t it closer, for not too far from Fort Lewis and army base? Yeah, that very possible. Yeah. Yeah, so graduated from high school 1949, 49. And so you had a couple of years before you went into the service. What happened between high school and service? When I got out of high school? One thing. When I graduated there are, let’s see, he was our teacher, we’re the class, and I had to him write in my annual and he voted in. Are The kid most likely not to succeed. Had that hit home? I guess so. So it made me determine and I was my wife when I was seventeen years old and I did to him my sit when I’m I was eighteen years old. I said, when I’m fifty five, I’m going to we’re going to have it made and I’m going to retire, and we did. I retired and she quit interesting at fifty five. Wow. Well, we’re talk about that in a second. But so, so, after, after high school, then you you you met your wife. Did you meet your wife then? I was feeling school. You were still in school and met her and her name is Mary Lou, Mary Lou Lou, you call her Lou Lou. And so she was a beautiful young lady and you fell in love. And when did you get married. Oh, she was fifteen, I was seventeen. We got married 51. Wow. So and when I got out high school, I started a cartoner frentowship. I went to Trade School, Uh Huh, into Bates Vocational School for yeah, here’s worked in daytime, went school to night, to a week. Interesting. So tell me about getting drafted for the Korean War. What was that like? That was something else. We were going. We were going together and I had some money, little money saved and heading new car paid for her prospects of a good job. So we’re going together and we can go. Get called down for the draft. Or twenty years old. I was calling me and I was for a foot, had high blood pressure. Uh Huh. We thought we forget that one. So we get decided to get married. We married about eight, ten months, as I would say. HMM. We started. We build our own house right actually, and being I got called to the draft. And what even if, even though you were for f now that just the first time. The second time they called me. Uh huh, I went back in for another physical and your blood pressure was down. My bloodbird, I was worn. I was a good soldier. There you go. So you got drafted into the army in one 1950 to 1952, and so sent directly to Korea after basic training in Camp Roberts, California. So tell me, tell me a little bit about where you served in Korea. What, where? Where did you serve in Korea? What? What parts ever on VMZ MMM up there for over seven months. I see, where’s this? In a forty fifty and I will see I was the second Amer burd and machine guns gone and in four or five months for tune certain. Well, maybe the six, and then maybe after about the time to war ended, I made these seven. So was there much much skirmish? Is going on in the DMC at that time, or at things quiet? It wasn’t. Yeah, yeah, in fact, one of our last interviews that we did was a gentleman here at Patriots landing who had been on the in Pork Chop Hill and had battled there and in the Korean War at Pork Chop Hill and they gotten wounded there. And so I’m sure you had a lot of buddies that’s you knew from that era or some goodments, lost some good friends even in high school. ors. Five of Uside of my class didn’t if I didn’t make it. Yeah, yeah, so, so were you there until the end of the war? Yeah, I didn’t. Yeah, I didn’t come home to fifty fifty four, one thousand nine hundred and fifty four. Yeah, we were ended and I was in a in a forty five division and they broke it up and then I went to in after the war was over. I was in the Fifth Regimental Combat Team over there. I see, I see, regiment. Yeah, infantry, uh-huh. I’m maneuvers and I had my time of Korea do, but I know were they going to do with me. Just came back to the states. I’m still to drafty. So they kept me over there and I trained. I trained troops. I see. Yeah, well, so the war ends and you come back to your beautiful bride of a few years. And so what what happens then? I see we’ve build a house. I went it was still going to school, hmm, trade school, work in the daytime. And see, we all came home. We had a fourteen month old daughter. Oh well, that, yeah, that’s that happens. Yeah, a beautiful daughter, beautiful daughter, and her name is Deborah Lyn, Deborah Lynn. Yeah, I’ve got out of the man. Yeah, well, I’m sure she understands. Yeah, yeah, certainly. So. Then we sold. We finished that House that we had, could we? Just? When I left, we had the front door, in the backdoor, in the bathroom door, but I would on the floors. Wow, and so, so you’re done the house with. Yes, so she got to live. Did she live there that whole time you were gone? So to pay rent on that? Yeah, and that big money you make. You, yeah, exactly, exactly. So then after, after the war, and you came back home and your little family there work for the same contractor to have working for one night island when I got drafted. And then in one thousand nine hundred and fifty seven we incorporated. And let’s see, I was still going to school and let’s see in this he gave me some good offer to I wouldn’t made the had education with I have to thank Charlie skin. I’m my employer at that time. I want him for fifteen years and never missed a paid wow, and we’ve for and that’s pretty good for construction, not missing the paid day. I mean it was big commercial works, right rich is that guy’s right on houses and he was just super to me. But didn’t. Fifty seven we incorporated, Uh Huh. And and in sixty six we got in a little discussion and split. The Sheet Company got a hold of me and sending us to Alaska for thirty eight four. Sent me up to Valdi’s one thousand nine hundred and sixty six to build a four storm the new town of Aldi’s. Interesting, quite an honor. Yeah, and we should say thirty years. Thirty years in Alaska back in ninety six really some good eighty six, uh Huh. Some good money to be made in Alaska in those years I as sure as job in the world. I was Superintendent of the UH Huh. I will see union carboner, I say, back carried to court. And well, you got to tell me what’s it like in the Alaskan winter, in the in December, when there’s hardly any light out? That has got to be the most depressing thing to me in the world. Yeah, it did. You. Yeah, you got a watch free days and tree as dusk, Uh Huh, and you get up in it in the dark and come home in the dark. And how are you working in that? I mean you just got giant lights in your I had I big I was building big job, dude, pretty good big jobs. Uh huh. And I would get all of the outside work done by October and we worked inside all winter and finished. I never missed any time up there. Interesting that, Tony. I worked twenty years up there. Yeah, eighteen down in Washington and and twenty in Alaska. Interesting. And so you had a chance to retire. Well, you know, I’m doing the math. So you retired and then you stayed in Alaska for a while. Yeah, we did, and and we went. We snowboarder went to bar a place in Arizona. Uh Huh. We drove for nine years over home, both from Fairbanks to Yuma, for up and back for nine years. Wow, so did you did the Canadian highway all the way up into Alaska, all the way up? Yeah, some four thousand miles away. Incredible experiences. Yeah, what did you like best about Alaska? Yep, people, we hunt and fish. We hunted, fished. And the winters were tough, but the summers were great and I got excuse me, I got the I traveled all over the whole state. We went, you know, in Ketch I was sending five years building in Ketchikan for five years. I went to Kodiak, Delaham, wor angle, all over and it was it was a not fortuity. It was a new challenge everywhere I went to. Yeah, yeah, and your fat Kodiak and it’s your work. It’s bed rocky, had a drill and shoot the foundation and then you go some places out and be big Muskeg. There’s no bottom to it and it was so yeah, yeah, so then you come back here to Washington state after that. Would nineteen nine one thousand nineteen eight. Yeah, yeah, so tell me about coming to patriots landing. How long have you been here in Patriots landing? Be Sunday, be nine months, nine months and hot. What brought you here? What did what made you decide that you wanted to come to patriots landing? Well, I got I’m a Hun Potent Disabled, Uh Huh, and I it. I just we had a place in as lacy and I just I just couldn’t take care of me anymore. Uh Huh. I think a few physical mental problem or not, mental and physical problems and I just couldn’t take a weather. We got to do something different, Uh Huh, and wouldn’t. So we talked to Julie, something to the choice program any wake out to she helped the veterans find a place. So she all US around to a couple three different places to look at, Uh Huh, and we ended up. We ended up here. Well, I think you made a great choice. You like it here. We’re yeah, we got a nice two bedroom second floor. Will just very happy. Yeah, yeah, it’s a nice lot of knife people, nice place to be. If you yeah, if you were going to tell somebody why they should come and visit Patriots landing, what would you say to him? If the people are fantastic. It’s a good, safe building. You any for fire or anything like that? I don’t care where it is. The grounds are camp up to. I haven’t lost any week, ha ha, ha ha. Good food, ha ha ha. And but the people, we’ve met a lot of people. So, and you know, wanty, you don’t want to burn any bridges? Yeah, yeah, never know. Yeah, we just met one lady in a while back. That whose who son. I want to talk to him. Well, he happened to don’t. In pilopt he managed wing the grocery stores that I built down there. So you know, you just you just don’t know. Yeah. Well, Carl, I want to thank you for your service. I want to thank you for this interview on answers for elders and we love meeting the veterans and hearing their stories and hearing about what life was like back in one thousand nine hundred and thirty five and thirty six and in the Pula Valley and and we’ve been speaking with Karl Knaack. He was sergeant first class seven and the US army back in the Korean War. And thank you for your service. This has been a special honoring veterans. Presentation of Answers for Elders brought to you by CareAge. For more information about CareAge, the website is


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Originally published November 11, 2017

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