Attachment 11 After 53 Years, He's 'Honorable' - 1974
Michael R. Kamiske of Spokane has received his honorable discharge from the Army—more than 53 years after working on the Trans-Siberian Railroad as a Russian Railway Service Corps member.
"When it came, I was shocked; I didn't expect it," said the 83-year-old retired Great Northern employee. "I had given up hope so many times."
The corps, mostly railroad employees, controlled the Siberian rail line until 1920, despite clashes with Red and White Russian forces who sought it. Kamiske was stationed at Vladivostok.
Although corps members were issued Army uniforms and weapons and were authorized to wear Army insignia, they were given only temporary discharges in 1920.
The Government said it wouldn't pay benefits to the surviving corps members because they essentially were civilians sent to help the Russians, much the same as the Red Cross would.
"When applying for jobs, we did not get the preferential treatment other veterans got," Kamiske said. "We received no veterans' benefits. But most of all, it was the stigma we suffered.
Corps veterans became a "close-knit group," he said, and their legal battle to win honorable discharges cost them about $50,000.
Seventy-eight corps survivors began the final legal fight in 1967. Four months ago, Kamiske and 32 other corps veterans finally were certified by the Army as honorable men.
"[Attachment 11]: After 53 Years, He's 'Honorable'," from the Seattle Times, 19 February 1974 in Hearing before the Committee on Venteran's Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-Fifth Congress, First Session on S. 247, S. 1414, S. 129, and Related Bills, Washington DC: US Government Print Office, 25 May 1977, p. 332.