American War Hero and Survivor of Holocaust Returns to Slovakia 64 Years Later

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Frank John Sopko, A Rusyn-Slovak American war hero born on January 29, 1930, in Tahanovce has returned to Kosice for the first time in 64 years after being captured by Nazi Germans. Frank and his family helped Jewish families escape Nazi's during WWII. He will arrive for the first time on May 27, 2005, and will be here until June 6, 2005. He has not seen his family or native home of since being taken to Nazi death camps 64 years ago.

Frank John Sopko, A Rusyn-Slovak American war hero born on January 29, 1930, in Tahanovce has returned to Kosice for the first time in 64 years after being captured by Nazi Germans. He will arrive for the first time on May 27. 2005 and will be here until June 6, 2005. He has not seen his family or native home of Slovakia since being taken to Nazi death camps 64 years ago.

Frank and his family in Slovakia during WWII were helping Jewish families escape the Nazi death camps. One day while Frank was taking a Jewish family to Kosice and he was returning to Tahanovce. He was captured by the SS Nazis sometime between 1941 and 1942 and was taken to a concentration camp in Germany. He survived in several of these terrible camps for over three and a half years and was freed by one of General Paton's tank divisions, which liberated him from a concentration camp in Germany. Frank was well liked by the Americans and provided information about the Nazis to the American troops, and they decided to take him back to America.

He was taken back to America and many newspaper articles where written about this Rusyn-Slovak boy that survived the death camps of Nazi Germany. He was befriended by a Slovak priest that paid for him to finish private school St Benedictine in Cleveland, Ohio. He met many Slovak people at the school who watched over him during his late teenage years.

He moved to Michigan at age 17 and met Henry Ford, who gave him a nickel for ice cream every Sunday in Dearborn, Mich. Ford offered Frank a job, when he turned 18 years old, at the Rouge Steel Plant. Frank accepted the job but soon became restless and decided he wanted to serve in the U.S. Army.

Frank had a need, maybe due to his early days in the concentration camps, to help in the war. He became a solider for America during the Korean War. He was highly decorated with several silver and bronze stars for his service and was nominated for the Medal of Honor.

Frank felt he earned the right to be an American and he requested citizenship as he was finishing his duty. What he didn't realize was that his status in America and how he arrived didn't allow him to stay in the U.S., and the U.S. Immigration department wanted to deport this Rusyn-Slovak American war hero back to, what was then, communist Czechoslovakia.

There were many newspaper articles written about Frank during that time and several congressmen and senators got together and enacted a Bill that was passed by the Senate and Congress to offer Citizenship to individuals that served in the military. The bill was passed by Congress and Senate, and Frank was given his U.S. citizenship. This was in the media in more than 22 states and various news articles were written about Frank during this time as well.

Frank married a wonderful lady, Linda Diane Martin, who was also an orphan that was adopted by the Martin family. They had four sons together: Stephen, David, Frank Jr., and Joseph. His wife passed away last year which was a great loss in his life. He resides today in Virginia near 3 of his sons.

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Stephen Sopko

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