Emil J. Gleich
Biography: Emil Jonas Gleich, “Pete”, was born on January 15, 1925, in Antigo, Wisconsin. He was the son of William Gleich and Justina Denk and attended Deerbrook Elementary and graduated from Coleman High School in 1943.
Prior to the war he worked at Gambles Hardware Store, which was owned by his brother-in-law.
Service Time: Pete entered the service on March 2, 1943, and after his basic training was assigned to Company B of the 672nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, which was stationed at Camp Hood, Texas, at the time. The unit was sent to Fort Ord, California, for additional training and while there, they were re-designated as the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion. Pete would then transition from the unit’s original tank destroyers to serve as a driver for one of the new unit’s LVTs (Landing Vehicle Tracked).
The battalion sailed from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation on Sep. 23, 1944, and landed at Bougainville Island, on October 9, 1944. The unit was attached to the 37th Infantry Division and carried troops ashore in the assault landing on Jan 9, 1945, at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands. It supported both the 37th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division in the drive south to Manila. In February, 1945, it was attached to the 11th Airborne Division for the mission to capture the Los Baños prisoner camp and the release of its civilian internees on February 23rd.
They then moved to Morotai in June, 1945, and were attached to the 1st Australian Division and one company from the Battalion carried troops ashore in the assault landing at Balikpapan Borneo, landing on July 1st. The 672nd shipped back to the U.S., landing at the San Francisco port on December 24th and were deactivated at Camp Stoneman, CA, on that same day.
The unit received credit for campaigns of the Northern Solomons and Luzon and as of August 2, 2011, were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their participation in the liberation of the Los Baños prisoner camp. They also received the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
Pete received credit for both of the unit’s campaigns and was awarded the WWII Victory, American Theater and the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medals along with the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Overseas Service Bars, 2 Bronze Service Stars, and Bronze Service Arrowhead device denoting his participation in the assault landing. Pete left the service on January 5, 1946, at the rank of Technician 4th Grade.
Now back in the U.S., he married the former Dolores Sindelar and the couple made their home initially in Neva, WI, and had two daughters, Patricia, in 1950, and Katherine in 1953. Pete owned two Chevrolet dealerships, the first in Neva and then one in Lancaster, Kentucky. Pete had a life-long love of photography, developing many of the photos he took during his military service. He was also a member of the Rotary Club and Lancaster Methodist Church and coordinated local Civil Defense activities. Sadly, Dolores passed away in 2000, after 54 years of marriage. In 2003, he married the former Georgia Rosamond Childress, who went by Rosamond. Pete and Rosamond resided in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and he was able to visit important sites like the World War II Museum, in Washington, D.C., to reunite with his former unit.
Pete was very proud of his military service and was active in the unit’s reunions and activities after the war. After his retirement, he and Rosamond would begin a tireless campaign to right an omission from Pete’s service with the 672nd. The unit had participated in the well-known liberation of the Los Baños prisoner camp on February 23, 1945, but had never received credit for that participation. Pete and Rosamond, as well as others starting in 2006, wrote over 140 letters and mailed almost 900 copies to various officials in the military and government for their support in this cause. On August 3, 2011, their goal was achieved. It is clear that without Pete’s work, the unit would not have received the recognition they deserved. Pete had once again served his unit well and won his longest campaign.
Pete passed away on October 11, 2015, and was buried in the Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville, KY. I want to thank Pete’s daughter, Pat, for providing the information and photos of Pete used in this tribute. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor, L.E., for use of the grave marker image.
I want to note that Pete was one of the men I spoke to when I was doing my initial research for the website. He provided me with a number of materials and more importantly, encouraged me to continue the work. Thank you so much Pete! -Rob