Alphonse J. Antczak , ASN 191000991

Radio Operator - LORAN

10th Air Force / 7th Bombardment Group / 9th Bombardment Squadron

(Images/Info Courtesy of Margaret Antczak, Daughter)

Al Antczak, post-war China

Recollections of Alphonse J. Antczak

"The biggest news event of my life was World War II. I was in the Army Air Corps, trained as a radio operator and Loran specialist. I also had 10 flying lessons but didn’t qualify to go further. I was stationed in 11 states, from the sands of Sconset on the windward side of Nantucket Island in the Atlantic to Riverside, California.

I got sent to the CBI-the China, Burma, India Theater of Operations. I went on a troop ship out of San Pedro California. It took 36 days to Calcutta, India, with one day stops in Melbourne and Freemantle, Australia, across the Pacific, through mountainous seas in the Great Australian Bight and then the glass smooth Indian Ocean. From Calcutta a troop train loaded with U.S., British, Indian and Gurkha soldiers took us across Bengal and Assam provinces to a base called Chabua at the foot of the Himalayas. We called them The Hump. During the war 607 planes were lost over The Hump. We flew over The Hump to China. I was stationed in Kunming and Chengtu—actually in a village called Hsing Ching on the Min Chang River where we could see and hear boatmen chanting as they pulled boats up river. When the war ended I flew across China, from West to East, to a city in North China where I was stationed. There I met Dr. Irene Siu, whom you met in Washington. She and her brother were stranded on their way back to college in Shanghai. Our outfit rescued them. You know the rest of the story. Her name then was Hsu I-lien.

I was stationed at Shanghai Air Depot and sailed home on the Marine Phoenix through the Yellow Sea, the China Sea, Korea, Japan, and the North Pacific to Seattle—a cold and stormy voyage. From there I went to Marysville, San Francisco and home to Los Angeles. I arrived at Union Station in April 1946, three years and one month after leaving there.”

"Marine Phoenix" troop ship

An article written by Al Antczak for "The Tidings", August 1995

"Face to Face With a Not-So-Beaten Enemy"

When the war with Japan ended, my outfit was ordered from China's Far West to a Japanese-occupied town...(Read more) - pdf file

A Tribute to Mr. Antczak, following his death in October 2006

Published: Friday, October 13, 2006 in "The Tidings"
'A true gentle man who respected others', by Msgr. Francis J. Weber

Occasionally, very occasionally, a person moves across center stage of old planet earth who epitomizes not one but all of the virtues associated with a true man of God. Over a long life I have known myriads of people, read about thousands of others and written about still more. But Al Antczak remains the only one I would pray to, not for.

There's much in Al's pedigree that's edifying for those of us who stay behind today.

He was born on August 3, 1922, to Frank and Adela (Garcia) Antczak. Frank, a native of Pozoan, Poland, came to the United States via Ellis Island. Adela, displaced from her home in Central Mexico by revolutionary turmoil, walked across the Rio Grande with her parents, brothers and sisters. A cousin is today the town physician in Jesus Maria, their birthplace in Aguascalientes.

Young Alphonse attended Assumption School in the Polish corridor of Detroit, an institution operated by the Felician Sisters. In 1931 the future editor was brought to Los Angeles, settling in San Antonio de Padua Parish in Boyle Heights. His pastor was Msgr. Leroy Callahan who did exceptional work in the growing Mexican parishes of the eastside.

After graduation from Loyola High School, Al enrolled as an English major at Loyola University. There he became a protege of the legendary Father Vincent Lloyd-Russell. Al joined the staff of The Loyolan and served twice as editor of that college newspaper, before and after World War II.

In 1943, Al enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, first as an cadet and subsequently as a radio operator. He was on detached service with the Coast Guard for a time to learn airborne LORAN, then a secret navigational system,

Upon his return to Loyola after the war, Al resumed writing for The Loyolan. Msgr. Thomas McCarthy, editor of The Tidings, was impressed by several of Al's articles about wartime experiences in India and China and offered him a position with the archdiocesan newspaper.

On the Monday after his graduation, Al was assigned to a desk at The Tidings which was then located at Jefferson and Figueroa Streets. From January of 1947, the imprint of Alphonse Antczak was felt on no fewer than 2,200 weekly issues of The Tidings.

During the ensuing 42 years, Al witnessed and wrote about a host of topics touching upon the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, including the five great western migrations --- European displaced persons (late 1940s), easterners (1950s), Cuban refugees (1959), Asian boat people (mid 1970s) and the Central Americans (1980s). He moved among these new peoples as friend, advocate and chronicler.

In August 1973, Al Antczak became the 16th editor of The Tidings. During the next 16 years, he continued and expanded the coverage of California's oldest Catholic newspaper. Among many awards The Tidings won for reporting, editorials and layout during the Antczak years, none pleased the editor more than that given for the paper's editorial support of farm workers at Rancho Sespe in Ventura County.

During those hectic times, Al and his wife, Helen, lived quietly in a modest home in the shadows of San Gabriel Mission along with their eight PIMA (Polish-Irish-Mexican-American) children.

Though he probably wrote more stories, edited more releases and covered more events than any employee in the 100-plus year history of The Tidings, Al was no ivory tower visionary. The paper in those days was laboriously printed by letterpress and involved weekly treks to the composition house in Compton. His manual typewriter qualifies for the Smithsonian Institution along with his antiquated car that rolled up nearly 300,000 miles before collapsing in a puddle of oil in the family driveway.

During four archbishoprics, Alphonse Antczak was a primary witness and faithful chronicler for the life of the Church in Southern California. He verbalized his role as that of reporting the works of God's people living out their spiritual destiny in the 20th century. In 1989, after 42 years, Alphonse Antczak wrote the traditional "30" across his last editorial for The Tidings, to conclude a long and distinguished career in the public service of the Church.

There are many aspects in Al's life that are worthy of imitation by those of us still traveling the roadway to eternal life. Most prominent to me is this: No one ever had stronger viewpoints than Al Antczak on the current flash points in modern society.

Yet never did he belittle opposing views, deride dissenting motives or impugn outlandish opinions. He was a true gentle man who respected others, however uninformed they may have been.

Another of Al's remarkable characteristics was his ability to motivate and direct those who shared with him the ministry of the written word, always with a kind but informative charm. He carried a large stick, but he rarely slammed it down.

You will recall that the four evangelists were the first to proclaim the "Glad Tidings" to an expectant world. Al was God's evangelist in the 20th century using The Tidings as his mouthpiece for bringing the good news to the Catholics of Southern California.

Msgr. Francis J. Weber, archivist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, authored "California's Catholic Heritage" for 33 years in The Tidings, including all of Al Antczak's 16 years as editor.

9th BS Personnel

7th BG Personnel