Edward J. Kozak
Petty Officer 3rd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 03/21/1944 - 04/30/1946
Musician 03/21/1944

He was born into a family of musicians in Chicago. Edward was the son of Alice Hanna and Edward Joseph Kozak, a trumpet player who had been a solo cornetist for John Phillip Sousa, as well as performing in vaudeville and Chautauqua venues. Young Edward followed his father (and grandfather) into music and show business. He started in vaudeville, working with George Goebel in Chicago. By age five he was playing drums (including one of the original snare and bass drum sets with a foot pedestal for the bass. He also played the marimba, vibra harp, xylophone, and piano. Long hours of practice, at least three hours a day, honed his skills. He worked in vaudeville, burlesque (before it became a strip-tease venue) and the Orpheum circuit of theaters. Edward joined the U.S. Navy in 1944. He took boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, then went to radio school at Wright Junior College in Chicago. Taking advantage of his skills, the Navy placed him in broadcasts such as "Target" and "Meet Your Navy." Needing men to drive boats, however, the Navy sent him on to San Diego for training as a coxswain on a Higgins boat. While a patient in a hospital with pneumonia, he learned of orders directing anyone talented in music to report to Washington, D.C. There he was placed in a band for Admiral Chester Nimitz as a soloist. Edward was sent to Pearl Harbor, then to Guam. Because of his reputation of needling little or no rehearsal time, he was often called to the Nimitz residence to play solos. Music was not the only duty for Edward and other band members. They were sent on work details when not playing or rehearsing. Meanwhile, the situation on Guam was still dangerous. He and others slept with weapons after Japanese infiltrators slashed the throats of 20 men in a Quonset hut. At war's end, Edward was sent to Pearl Harbor where he remained for six months until he earned enough points for discharge. Returning to the States, he was discharged in April of 1946 at Great Lakes Training Center. Returning to show business, he once more traveled the country with his music. One day his agent booked him into the Zephyr Room of the Washington Youree Hotel in Shreveport, where he met Marjorie Goff. They married on September 18, 1949. They would have two children. The couple traveled together on the road while he performed with Xavier Kugot. Throughout his career, Edward has performed on stage and television with many stars, including George Goebel, Burl Ives, Mitch Miller, Dick Van Dyke, and others. Retiring from the road, Edward remained in Shreveport and eventually began teaching full-time. He still teaches piano, drums, marimba, vibra harp, and theory and composition. He's also written a book on keyboards and another on the blues. He and Marjorie, who is deceased, have two children.