When you think about D-Day and the Allied invasion of northern France during World War II, you probably think of German soldiers manning the pillboxes and artillery to repel General Eisenhower’s forces.
However, German casualties and recruiting shortfalls had forced the German armed forces to induct troops from many of the nations they had fought or occupied. It was because of this that Allied forces ended up capturing a Korean soldier in German uniform named Yang Kyoungjong during the Normandy Campaign.
But the almost unbelievable story of Yang Kyoungjong started years before. He was a Korean living in what was then Japanese-occupied territory, and was inducted into the Japanese Army to fight the Soviets in the brief Japan-Soviet border conflict that was fought prior to World War II.
Captured by the Soviets, he was sent to a labor camp from which he was later released to serve in the Red Army when the Soviets needed additional manpower to fight the Germans in 1942. After he was captured by the Germans during the Battle of Kharhkov, he was pressed into service on the Western Front as part of an “East Battalion” (non-German) infantry unit.
After the war, Yang moved to the United States and died in Cook County, Illinois in 1992. Unfortunately, despite extensive searching we have been unable to find much detail about his life in the U.S., and he apparently did not tell his family members very much about his wartime experiences.
Nonetheless, given all that the forces of history threw at this man, we are glad that he could make a home in our country after all that he endured.
If anybody has connections with the Korean American community of Cook County, Illinois and can provide additional background information on this man’s remarkable life (either before or after he moved to the U.S.), please let us know.
For a bit more background information we recommend this video from the Today I Found Out YouTube channel: