Korean War memories

Korean War veteran recalls bumpy road to U.S. citizenship

2013-11-24T18:00:00Z 2013-11-25T11:25:30Z Korean War veteran recalls bumpy road to U.S. citizenshipMonte Martin monte.martin@nwi.com, (219) 852-4318 nwitimes.com
November 24, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Korean War veteran Manoly Traycoff didn't take a nationally known pop singer's vow seriously, but he took an induction center Army officer at his word.

He was mistaken in both instances.

Traycoff, who saw action on T-Bone Hill and Heartbreak Ridge, didn't spend all his Korean hitch on the front lines. The heavy weapons company GI was a self-described "bodyguard" for crooner Eddie Fisher, the father of Carrie Fisher — Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movies— when the performer was appearing in USO shows in the area.

Fisher, generally considered the most successful pop singles artist of the first half of the 1950s, and Traycoff hit it off.

The Philadelphia native told his newfound buddy from Gary he would call Traycoff's parents when he got back stateside.

The 1949 graduate of Emerson High was astounded later when he learned Fisher had followed through with this pledge. Fisher also invited Traycoff to come to New York to see his nightclub act when he was discharged in July 1953, but Traycoff said he didn't have the money to make the trip.

At that point, he was focused on helping his Macedonian-born fiancee resolve her visa problems so they could get married and eventually settle down in Valparaiso, where they own the Viking Chili Bowl.

Little did Traycoff, who was born in Greece, know then that he had his own citizenship problems.

He mentioned his Greek lineage when he was at the induction center as a draftee in October 1951, but the officer at the front of the room told him to just raise his right hand, take the oath and "that'll take care of it."

Traycoff later found out from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that it doesn't work that way. He wound up going through the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen years after his military service for his adopted country.

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