Baird Nursing Home resident Leonard Brozak, 93, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He entered the Navy in 1943 at Sampson Boot Camp. From there, Brozak attended gunnery school and was stationed at Newport Island, where he worked on small boats as a motor machinist. He later worked on the APA USS Queens, which was involved in the battle of Hiroshima. The ship took many Marines and Army soldiers to fight the Axis powers in Japan.
“Our job was to protect our fellow soldiers from the bombers,” Brozak said. “We had many bombers and aircraft that were trying to hit us.”
Brozak remembered being frightened at first, but he still went down 90 steps to his battle station in the auxiliary motors to work with the engines if the ship lost power.
His second ship was the PC48, an air-sea rescue ship. Its role was to help the bomber planes that battled in Japan. Planes that could not make it back would radio in for ocean pickup.
“I joined the Navy when I was 18 years old,” Brozak said. “It taught me discipline and order. I learned a lot.”
Brozak was born and raised in Rochester, and has lived in the area with his wife and kids for 44 years. He has four children, eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.
“It is important to hear these stories from our loved ones,” said Stephen Heard, owner of the Baird Nursing Home. “They have experienced times of change. We need to carry on their stories for generations to come. Thank you to Leonard and all of our veterans and service members who are currently serving for their commitment and service to our country.”