Biography: Michael "Mike" Mlay was born on November 10, 1909, in Pittsburgh, Allegany County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Fedor Mlej (aka Frank Mlay) and Maria Zan. Fedor and Maria both immigrated to the U.S., through Ellis Island, from their homeland in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Fedor came in 1903 and Maria in 1906, they married on May 30, 1907. Mike attended Oliver High School in Pittsburgh. After he left school, he was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Company 313 at Sizerville, PA, for a period and also worked at a train car factory and did bridge work.
Service Time: Mike entered the service on March 14, 1942, at New Cumberland, PA. He was originally assigned to the 608th Tank Destroyer Battalion. When the 608th was disbanded on December 20, 1943, Mike, along with many other men, was transferred to the 607th. He was trained as a machine gunner and eventually assigned to Company A. Company A landed at Utah Beach on June 17, 1944, and, along with the battalion, fought in the Falaise Gap battles and moved towards Metz, France, where they engaged the enemy during the two and a half month siege to take the city. By early December they were approaching the German border east of Metz. On December 9th, the 3rd Platoon of Co. A was supporting the 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, in their attack in Saarlautern-Roden, Germany. As the tank destroyer in which Mike was a crew member, crossed a railroad track it was struck by an enemy bazooka round and set on fire. The TD commander was lightly wounded, three crewmen were killed and Mike was seriously wounded. He was evacuated, losing a leg as a result of his severe wounds, and arrived in the U.S. on March 16, 1945.
After spending an extended period in various hospitals, he was finally discharged on June 10, 1946, at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C.. He was given permanent disability status. Mike earned the following medals and awards: Good Conduct, EAME, American Defense, World War II Victory and a Purple Heart. He was credited with the Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland Campaigns and left the service at the rank of Private First Class.
Mike passed away on December 7, 1967 and was buried at the Highwood Cemetery in Pittsburgh, PA.
We would like to thank Mike's nephew, Robert, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.
Mike is shown, standing in the center, while serving in the CCC. On the right is an original patch from the unit.
Mike is shown at left sitting in the front row, center. The photo was probably taken while he was still in the U.S..
Another photo from Mike's training days. This is probably from his time with the 608th which trained in South Carolina. Here he is seen sitting on a 37mm anti-tank gun.