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Old 08-05-2007, 07:52 AM
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Laczniak was dedicated to family, job
By CONNING CHU
Posted: Aug. 5, 2007

In 1944 on Enewetak Atoll in the South Pacific, 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Raymond "Hogan" Laczniak's strong will beat death, but barely. The young Marine from Milwaukee suffered severe wounds when shrapnel from a Japanese mortar shell that exploded near him became lodged in his lungs.

Laczniak, who died from lung failure July 28, pulled through the loss of part of a lung and more than two years in a rehabilitation center to live until age 86. He endured 13 surgeries and 63 years of weak lungs but continued to laugh and fight to live everyday freedoms, his son, Gene Laczniak, said. The elder Laczniak received the Purple Heart for his wartime service.

He took pride in providing for his family while working for Nordberg Manufacturing Co. in Milwaukee for 42 years, Gene Laczniak said.

"He was just a guy who did his job," said his son, who is a business professor at Marquette University. "He'd spend weekends picnicking with the family, just simple things like that."
Hogan Laczniak, who was born March 30, 1921, in Milwaukee, lived his entire life in the city.

He was baptized, attended the parish school, received his first Holy Communion and was married in the same Milwaukee church, St. Josaphat Basilica

An avid baseball fan, he followed the Brewers, and before them the Milwaukee Braves, with intensity, Gene Laczniak said. His love of baseball even resulted in his nickname, "Hogan." As a boy, he was playing catch with friends and was slammed right between the eyes with a baseball.

His eyes swelled up and bruised so much that his friend dubbed him "Hogan" after "Shanty" Hogan, a New York Giants catcher who, at about the same time, had sported two black eyes after being smacked in the face with a ball.

Gene Laczniak said the nickname stuck for the rest of his father's life.

Growing up on the south side of Milwaukee, Laczniak was close to his family, which included 11 children, 8 of whom lived past childhood.

He came from a working-class family in which his father was the sole provider and his mother had her hands full taking care of the home throughout the Great Depression.

After the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing, Laczniak, then 20, decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. He eventually became a machine gunner, his son said.

After fighting in three Pacific island campaign invasions, he was sent home. While on a weekend leave from the Great Lakes Rehabilitation Hospital, Laczniak met his future wife, Jeanette.
Jeanette, whom Laczniak lovingly called Jenny, said she was struck by his honesty, kindness and good looks.

"He looked pretty good in that uniform," Jeanette Laczniak said.
They were married for 61 years and also had a daughter, Patricia Gardner of Arizona.

Laczniak rarely spoke of his experiences in the war, Gene Laczniak said, noting that his father acted like he was just glad to have gotten home alive.

Hogan Laczniak always made corny jokes to get a laugh out of his family and friends, his son said.

Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. today at Max A. Sass & Sons Funeral Home, 1515 W. Oklahoma Ave., with a prayer vigil at 5:30 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Monday at St. Josaphat Basilica, 2333 S. 6th St.
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