Streaming Media


Oral History interview of John Ciesko. Interview conducted by Kittel, Carly at UCF Orlando, FL.


00:36 Early life - family - growing up in Chicago; 02:24 Describing home life in South Chicago/sleeping arrangements; 05:20 Describes the careers of his family members; 07:01 Education - choosing to go into ROTC; 08:30 Meeting a lot of good friends in high school ROTC; 09:22 University of Illinois - working towards a commission; 10:28 Graduated May 1958 - in the military in November 1958; 10:57 Advanced training at Fort Belvoir; 14:45 Keeping sane during training/mind games during training; 17:15 Classroom training/Engineer training; 17:50 First impressions of Vietnamese counterparts; 20:45 Expectations of training/testing; 23:00 January 1959 - Shipping out to Panama; 25:20 Reasons for being in Panama - protecting the Panama Canal; 26:55 Discussing the duties of a combat engineering company; 29:13 War games with the 101st Airborne; 29:40 Relationships with others in the unit - living while in Panama; 32:00 Pranks with artificial vomit; 33:10 A non-typical day while in Panama - Riots in Panama; 35:21 Panamanian National Guard - breaking up the riots; 37:14 Meeting with higher ups regarding the riots; 39:41 Atomic demolition training; 41:36 Security measures, demolition training; 42:45 Leaving Panama September 1960 - end of active duty; 43:10 Reserve obligations - Camp McCoy, Wisconsin; 44:25 Civilian work - Lockheed Martin; 47:27 Coming to Florida - 1988; 49:06 Thoughts on military and post-military career; 49:41 Universal military experience; 50:21 Advice for future service members; 51:51 Mr. Ciesko discusses several incidents from his time in Panama; 57:26 Gaining an appreciation of the United States; 59:10 Final thoughts; 1:02:06 End.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Chicago (Ill.)




White - Non Hispanic

Home State


War or Conflict

Cold War Era




Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Army

Unit of Service

518th Engineer Company

Highest Rank

First Lieutenant; 1LT

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury



Atomic Demolition Zone


High School ROTC; University of Illinois ROTC; Trained at Fort Belvoir, VA. In Panama during the riots in 1959-1960.

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Kittel, Carly

Interview Date


Location of Interview

UCF Orlando, FL.


Ciesko, John F.; Cold War -- Personal Narratives; United States. Army

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Kittel, Carly

Length of Interview

62 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida


Video; MovingImage


All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576.


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type