Russian museum honors US WWII vet

Russian museum honors US WWII vet

Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 18, 4:32 pm ET

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – An exhibit opened in Russia on Thursday on the life of an American veteran believed to be one the few soldiers to fight for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union in World War II.

The Russian Museum exhibit, titled “Joseph R. Beyrle — A Hero of Two Nations,” presents 260 artifacts from Beyrle’s life and military career, including a collection of his medals, uniform and photographs.

His son, U.S. ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, attended the exhibit opening and said that though his father was called a hero by both nations he never considered himself one.

“He always used to say that real heroes were those who never came back from the war,” Beyrle said in fluent Russian.

Beyrle said his father “all his life was extremely grateful to the Russians, who saved him.” He said his father’s experience was a symbol of the strong relationship between the two countries.

The ambassador said Russian soldiers were grateful for billions’ worth of Allied military aid sent to the Soviet Union during the war — including U.S. Studebaker trucks.

He said he and his sister asked their father if he ever drank vodka with the Russians. “‘Yes, we drank vodka,’ he would reply. And here is a toast we had: To Roosevelt, To Stalin, To Studebaker!’”

Anatoly Tabunshchikov, 81, Russian war veteran who attended the opening event, said the exhibition “underlines the importance of the Soviet, American and British coalition that broke the back of Hitler’s machine.”

The highly decorated Staff Sgt. Beyrle parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and was captured by the Germans. He escaped and joined a Soviet tank battalion before he was wounded near Berlin and sent home through Moscow. He died in 2004.
The Muskegon, Michigan, native said he raised his hands and shouted the only two words of Russian he knew when he met Soviet troops after his escape from a German POW camp in January 1945. “Amerikansky tovarishch,” he called, American comrade.

Beyrle joined Soviet troops and was wounded as his unit approached Berlin. He was treated in a field hospital before being sent back to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, a mission his son now leads.

After the war, Beyrle returned to Russia several times. He was awarded numerous decorations by the U.S., the Soviet Union and, later, Russia.

Beyrle’s son became a Russia specialist with the U.S. State Department. John Beyrle served as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria from 2005 to 2008, before being named to the top diplomatic post in Moscow in July 2008.

Among the artifacts in the St. Petersburg exhibition are telegrams notifying Joseph Beyrle’s parents of his capture, his uniform and boots from WWI. The exhibition comes to Moscow on May 6.

**HOOAH! **

**Airborne! **

God rest your soul Trooper.

It is great to see this.

Yes isn’t it? Those WWII vets or I should say that generation fought and kept our freedom; I’ll never forget these hero’s.

In his Honor:

Thank God for them; and may God Bless them.

From a Cav Trooper:

He was a real fighter! He could have sat out the rest of the war like other POWs did, with no criticism, but he escaped so he could rejoin the war.

Given that he joined up with Red Army forces, I think that the POW camp was probably in Czechoslovakia or somewhere to the east.

My wife’s grandfather was a Colonel in the Red Army, at the time of WW2 he was a Captain. In Russia and surrounding countries they still take Victory Day parades very seriously and even in my wife’s home city which is only a provincial and not so large city you still will have parades of 20,000 soldiers or so and motorised divisions passing through the city square. In part that’s to do with the fact that no single nation suffered remotely the casualty levels that the Soviet Union did and there is no living Russian who cannot find some family member in their family tree who died during the conflict. Often in the most appalling ways.


Sorry, don’t try to type and watch Star Trek at the same time, I’m really bad a multitasking.:o

No wonder we refer to the war with the bland title of “World War II,” while the Russians have always called it “The Great Patriotic War,” which it was for them. The German Army’s back wasn’t broken in France, but in the Soviet Union at a horrible price to Russians and the other peoples of the Soviet Union.

There’s a saying that the Red Army won the war in Europe and the United States Navy won it in the Pacific. Not all that far off from the truth.

Thanks for sharing this admirable story.

The personal cost to my wife’s family was huge. As her grandfather was Jewish many of his extended family ended up been wiped out in the parts of the Ukraine and Russia the Nazis temporarily controlled. His immediate family were lucky enough to live in the east of Russia in areas the Nazis never managed to control. Well over 10 percent of the whole Russian population was killed in the war. At the beginning of the conflict soldiers were been sent to the front without anything in the way of proper equipment. My wife’s grandfather recalled young privates turning up with no rifles and incomplete uniforms at first. The casualty rate at first was as you can imagine atrocious as a result.

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