Andrew Mantlik was born on January 11, 1921, in a small, picturesque village called Hernadszentandras. The village located in northeastern Hungary was named after the patron Saint Andrew, and the word “Hernad” was added for the river that flows beside the village. After losing his mother at a young age, Mantlik, one of five children, lived in Hungary until age nine, when he and one of his sisters were sent to join their father in the United States. His father had been in the United States since he was 11 months old. Mantlik and his sister arrived at Ellis Island in 1930; Mantlik reflected, “I wasn’t afraid, just excited to learn English, and I learned it pretty fast.”
Settling in Norwalk, CT, Mantlik lived in a garage while his father had their house built and is still living in this same house today. Mantlik excelled in school and loved to read. He learned the English language quickly and would often be chosen to read aloud to the class because he could read better than the other students. But at age 16, he decided he was done with school and went to work at the automotive company Yankee Metal. He spent his days plating automotive parts with nickel, chrome, brass, and copper in the automotive company’s plating room.
Drafted by the United States Army in 1942 at the age of 22, Mantlik found himself bouncing from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania before eventually heading to San Antonio, TX, for Army ground forces training. It was in San Antonio where he learned tactical maneuvers and participated in bivouac training. He reminisced about how fancy the bedrooms were on base and laughed as he told a story about being scared by an armadillo in the pitch black while he was out on a bivouac training. Upon completing basic training, Mantlik was sent to Louisiana for more tactical training before eventually boarding a boat headed for Europe with the 95th Infantry Division. Mantlik landed in Southampton, England, in 1944, where he spent a month before being shipped to Normandy, France. He laughed as he told me, “They drank warm beer in England” and he didn’t understand how they could drink it that way. Once in France, he was handpicked by the 2nd Lieutenant to be his driver after the Lieutenant took a liking to him. The Lieutenant was responsible for keeping up communications between all the company’s, and it was
Mantlik’s job to drive him between companies. He said the 2nd Lieutenant was curious about his homeland and liked to hear his stories about Hungary and Budapest. Mantlik proudly noted, “I had a good job there, and I was lucky to get it.” He went on humbly stating, “I went on 20-mile hikes a couple of times, but that was about it.” As part of the 95th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 379th Infantry, also known as the Connecticut Men and “Victory Division,” Mantlik received two commendation letters for his military service during WWII, with one of them being from General Patton. When asked what his time in the military taught him, he expressed, “It taught me to love people because we learned to take care of each other and love one another, which I never forgot.”
After being honorably discharged as a Corporal in November of 1945, Mantlik went back to Norwalk, CT. On a trip to Toronto, Canada, to visit his sister, he met his future wife, Mary. By 1948 they were married and had their first of four children, which they raised in the same house he was raised in. As he thought about his late wife, he expressed sweetly,” I liked her right away. She was a beautiful young girl.” Mary passed away in 2015 at age 90. They were married for 68 years.
Mantlik worked reading gas and electric meters until he retired. He explained how he loved the job and requested to work in the country, allowing him to walk a lot and see the beautiful countryside.
Mantlik has two granddaughters and reminisced when he and his late wife took a train ride to see them out west. He loved traveling by train because he wanted to see the country and pointed out, “This is a beautiful big country with the cities and the open spaces, oh my goodness, it is a beautiful place.” He went on to say, “Hungary was a beautiful place too, mostly rural at the time I was there.” In 2002 he was able to journey back to Hungary to see the house he was born in and visit relatives who still live there.
Now 100 years old, Mantlik still loves to read and work with his hands. Although he may not be chopping wood for his wood-burning stove anymore, he has never liked to sit still unless he’s reading. He is currently reading a book his daughter sent him on the history of Hungary.
Brian Augustine from Connecticut In-Home Assistance, expressed, “It has been the honor of Connecticut In-Home Assistance to provide home care to such an amazing Veteran. All Veterans are due thanks and appreciation for all they have done for our country. We are just thrilled that he choose us to provide him with care . It is truly our honor.”
Veterans Care Coordination is proud to recognize Andrew Mantlik for his service to our country. We are privileged to have the opportunity to share the stories of our nation’s heroes.