Czechoslovakia at Iwo Jima

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous (Czech-Related)' started by stepan, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    Not sure if many people saw this, so I thought I would post this for all to see:

    Marine Raised Flag at Iwo Jima And Profile of Immigrants' Service
    By Ben Hubbard, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, July 30, 2008; Page B03

    The 1945 photograph of six U.S. servicemen raising the flag over Iwo Jima won a Pulitzer Prize, served as the model for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County and has become one of the most enduring images of World War II.

    But until this year, the U.S. Marine Corps wasn't aware of the immigrant background of one of the men in the photograph, Marine Sgt. Michael Strank, thinking he was born in Pennsylvania. He was born in Czechoslovakia.

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tried to rectify the oversight yesterday by presenting Strank's younger sister, Mary Pero, 75, with a certificate of citizenship in a ceremony in front of the statue that bears his likeness. Pero accepted the certificate on his behalf, smiling proudly in front of the towering bronze statue.

    During the ceremony, Jonathan Scharfen, acting director of CIS, said Strank hailed from "a long line of famous American immigrants who served their county in a time of war."

    Strank was born in Jarabenia, Czechoslovakia, and immigrated to the United States in 1922, where he lived with his family in Conemaugh, Pa. Strank became a citizen when his father, Vasil, was naturalized in 1935, although the younger Strank never received a certificate. Strank's mother, Martha, was naturalized in 1941.

    After graduating from high school and spending a year and a half in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Stark joined the Marines and served on various bases in the United States and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before sailing for combat in the Pacific in 1942.

    Four days after landing on Iwo Jima, Strank, four other Marines and a sailor raised the flag atop Mount Suribachi. Strank's sister recalled seeing the image in her local paper, although at the time she had no idea her brother was one of the men.

    Almost 7,000 U.S. military personnel, mostly Marines, died in the 36-day assault, and nearly 20,000 were wounded, making it one of the war's bloodiest fights. Strank, 25, died in combat a week after the flag raising, and Pero, who lives in Davidsville, Pa., remembered that her mother knew what had happened as soon as she saw the man with the telegram approaching their house.

    The family didn't learn Strank was one of the men in the photo until after his funeral, Pero said, when reporters called their home. In 1949, Strank was reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery.

    The Marine Corps was unaware of Strank's immigrant history until this year, Scharfen said, when a Marine security guard at the U.S. Embassy in the Slovak Republic who was researching Strank's background found no record of Strank being a U.S. citizen. This year, he filed an application for posthumous naturalization for Strank, Scharfen said.

    CIS investigated, finding that Strank had been naturalized but never received a certificate, Scharfen said.

    He said Strank's story represents the contributions that immigrants have made to the United States throughout its history, adding that new immigrants can apply for citizenship after their first day of military service. He said almost 40,000 people have become citizens this way since the rule was created in 2001.

    After the ceremony, Pero posed for photos in front of the monument with her husband and six other family members. The family had always known Strank was a citizen, she said, "but I didn't realize he didn't have any papers."

    "I feel so proud," she said, gazing up at the bronze face of her brother. "It makes me feel that this is history."

    She pointed to her 9-year-old grandson, Tommy Pero, who carried a black-and-white photo of Strank. "I think about as he grows up and has a family," she said, "this will all still be here."

    If you wish to see the pictures, here is the link to the story: ... 02146.html
  2. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

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