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Firnstahl, Kenneth

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Kenneth Firnstahl was born on 16 October 1924 in Long Prairie, Todd County, Minnesota, the sixth of seven children. His father owned a general store in Albany, Minnesota, and Ken spent the majority of his childhood there and in Burtrum, Minnesota. As a teenager his parents moved to Minneapolis, where he graduated from Marshall High School in 1943. In June of 1943, immediately following high school, Ken was drafted into military service. He completed US Navy basic training in Farragut, Idaho, and additional training in San Diego, California, as a medical corpsman. In December 1943 Ken was posted to Aiea Heights Naval Hospital, Territory of Hawaii, where he served until January 1946 as a corpsman; duties varied, but often included dealing with seriously wounded military personnel from all over the Pacific Theater. Ken remained at Aiea Heights for several months after V-J Day in August 1945; at the beginning of 1946 he was then rotated back to the US and discharged with the rank of pharmacist's mate 2nd class. Ken returned to Minneapolis after the Navy, and used GI Bill benefits to attend the University of Minnesota. He worked many years in the broadcasting business, in radio advertising, and lived in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In private life, Ken was married in 1949 (wife Mary Haas), raised a family of five children, and over the years has written poetry on a number of themes, including his experiences and emotions as a hospital corpsman. At the time of this interview (December 2002) Ken lived with his wife Mary in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.


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Ken Firnstahl - Transcript.pdf (659 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Ken Firnstahl