Daniel F. Yesko
United States Marine Corps
Wisconsin State Flag
From a contemporary news report: September 10, 1997

Daniel F. Yesko was a Chinese prisoner of war for nearly three years before he returned to Milwaukee to earn a college degree and start the special education department at Pulaski High School.

"He expected the most out of his students," said his friend and fellow teacher, Donald Souci. Though the youngsters had handicaps, "he still expected them to work toward their limits. He didn't make any excuses for them." 

Souci, retired chairman of Pulaski's social studies department, called Yesko "very professional in his outlook."

Yesko, who headed the special education department for many years, had not planned to be a teacher but wanted to make the U.S. Marine Corps his career, his wife, Marion, said. However, he contracted tuberculosis during his years as a POW and had to leave the corps upon his return. 

Yesko, who had lymphoma, died Monday at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. He was 65. 

He was born March 10, 1932, in Milwaukee to Stephen and Frances Yesko and had not completed his senior year at Boys' Technical High School when his Marine Corps reserve unit left for Korea in 1950. He took part in the Inchon landing in September of that year.

On November 28, a little more than two months after his unit arrived in Korea, he was at a forward listening post near the Changlin reservoir when Chinese troops attacked on a snowy battlefield. Yesko was hit and taken captive. 

He and others were moved to a small village with no medical facilities, and "my Chinese guard took a long pair of scissors and dug a .45-caliber shot out of my left side," Yesko said after he was repatriated. 

About four months after his capture he was moved near the front, and with other prisoners was forced to transport bags of rice on his back. In October 1951 he was placed in the first of several POW camps he remained in until his release in August 1953. 

News from the United States was not plentiful, but he did learn that the baseball Braves had been moved from Boston to Milwaukee and heard one score. "The Braves had beat Brooklyn. The score was 10-6 or something like that," he said. "Boy, did I ever have fun with the Brooklyn boys about that." 

Back home he earned a degree in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and began his teaching career at Pulaski in about 1960. He retired in 1990. 

He and his family moved from Wauwatosa to East Troy in the late 1970s. 

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Judith, of New Berlin; Daniel Jr. of Muskego; Anthony, of Woodbridge, Va.; and Christine McKeon, of Eagle. 

Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 1975 Beulah Ave., East Troy. The funeral will follow. 

On Monday, Yesko will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


Updated: 23 November 2003  Updated: 3 September 2005
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