Mark Gleeson was born May 11, 1927 in Kokomo, Indiana, though he grew up largely in the Pittsburgh area, where his father worked for PPG after his return from the Great War. Mark grew up in the 30s, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, but still enjoyed the typical American adolescence of the time. By the time WW2 began Mark was in high school, and he remembers growing during the war, dealing with the restrictions and following the news of the war. Mark turned 18 as the war was winding down, and by the time his notice came he had decided to join the Merchant Marine. He went off to training at Sheepshead’s Bay in Brooklyn, and while he was learning the basics of seamanship and preparing to go for radio training, the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, bringing the war to an end. Mark’s training ended there, and he was assigned to a ship out of Boston, and to the postwar convoy in the Pacific. He journeyed to New Orleans, and through the Panama Canal to the Philippines, with a stop at Morotai in the Dutch East Indies. They brought goods to Manila, and while there they witnessed the New Year’s celebration that ushered in 1946. By this time the decision had been made to transfer Mark’s ship to the Japanese, and it was used to repatriate the many Japanese soldiers still stationed in SE Asia. Mark himself spent some time in Yokohama before being sent back to the US, where he ended his merchant navy days and rejoined the civilian population, getting married and raising his family. He has also continued to campaign for veterans’ benefits for the American merchant seamen of WW2, who were not recognized for their contributions. Crestwood students interviewed Mark via zoom at his home in Pittsburgh in February 2022.
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