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   Born on  in Potapowicze, Poland. In 1938 he graduated from a Polish Air Force Academy, in 1939 he was flying against advancing Germans. Shortly after he was captured by advancing Soviets, becoming a prisoner of war in a Soviet Concentration Camp. He was eventually released, transported to England, and flew 60 more missions, through the Special Duty 138 C Flight. (Polish).  Returning from a Warsaw Uprising in 1944, his plane was shot down over Hungary, captured by the Hungarians, becoming a prisoner of war again for the second time. He was transferred to Germany, surviving the Nazi Death March for 700 miles, during the winter of 1944-1945. Eventually liberated by British Commandos. As Poland fell behind the Iron Curtain, he was blacklisted by communist regimes and could not return to his homeland of Poland. He remained in England, becoming a licensed aircraft engineer and test pilot. In 1957, he plotted German commercial aviation flight paths, using Collins Radio Meters in a flying laboratory, which is still used today in modern aviation. In 1959, he joined Collins Radio International Division London, as an avionics System Engineer, to leading aircraft manufacturers and operators. He represented Collins in Paris, France, and Farnborough Air Shows. He set up Collins throughout Europe, and immigrated to the United States in 1966. He was an Avionics Troubleshooter and Autopilot Certification Expert. He installed the Autopilot on Air Force One, during the Nixon Administration. He traveled to Poland each year, since 1978. In 1994 he built a wonderful gravesite for his parents, near his childhood home, now located in Belarus as of Yalta Agreement. He was a member of the Polish Air Force Veterans Association of Chicago, the Warsaw '44 Club, the Caterpillar Club, Knights of Columbus, and the Elks Club. He is survived by: Two daughters, Helen Henric of Miami Beach, Florida, and Janine Morse of Huntsville, Alabama, and one son, Nicholas Chmaruk, of Kalona, Iowa, also six grandchildren.

 

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Nick Chmaruk displays a case of medals earned by his decorated father,

Bazyli Chmaruk.

 

 

 

   Nick Chmaruk doesn't have to go far to remember his father, Bazyli Chmaruk, who died in April at the age of 91. His gravesite can be seen from his son's front door on Fifth Street. But even with that constant visual reminder, it would still be difficult for anyone to forget the man who had a front seat to one of the 20th Century's most turbulent eras and who also took part in the drama known as World War II. As Nick goes through his father's home next door, he pauses at a row of medals awarded to his father, a photo of Bazyli's 1938 graduating class from the Polish Air Force Academy and other mementoes from his service in the Polish Air Force and the Polish "special duty" squadron 138 attached to the British Royal Air Force. The invasion of Poland began Sept. 1, 1939, one week after the secret signing of a pact between Russia and Germany and the country crushed between the two advancing armies. Still allied with Germany, the Soviets captured the Polish airman as he was making his way home, He had planned to escape with his family to England where the Polish government was in exile was located. The Soviets sent him to a Siberian prison camp where very few survived. Many others were executed by the Soviets at secret forest sites like Katyn.  Chmaruk was freed when the Germans invaded Russia in 1941 and the Soviets became an ally. He was transported to England where he flew 60 missions dropping agents and supplies to underground forces. Shot down over Hungary in 1944, he was again captured and survived the winter 700-mile "Death March" through northern Germany. He was freed by British. "What's remarkable about my father's experience is that he flew the 60 "special duty missions in between Soviet concentration camp and the German "Death March", said Nick. "He always thanked God for his survival."  "Many Polish fliers in the Battle of Britain were classmates of my father in Air Force Academy," said Nick. "It's no accident they achieved an incredible kill ratio. They understood the aerodynamics of

the planes they flew. They were not reckless or kamikaze like the Brits made them out to be. The snob Brits didn't like the success of the Polish Aces, so history diminished them. One of the Polish Aces, Skalski, went back to Poland after the war only to be sentenced to death by the post war communist puppet Soviet satellite government and was imprisoned for eight years of re-indoctrination for fighting on the imperialist British side." Following the war, Chmaruk remained in England as a licensed aircraft engineer and test pilot. He was responsible for plotting commercial

aviation flight paths in Germany as the Marshall Plan wound down and used Collins Radio meters in his flying laboratory to plot the flight paths. Chmaruk joined Collins Radio in 1959, represented Collins at Paris and Farnborough Air Shows and immigrated to USA in 1966 to do auto-pilot research at Collins-Cedar Rapids.  He installed an auto-pilot on Air Force One during the Nixon Administration Each year since the lae 1970s Chmaruk traveled to where he built a family grave site in Lachowicze, Belarus, for his parents. One of the medals on Nick's father's wall is the Order of Virtuti Militari, Poland's highest decoration of virtue and integrity for his courage and survival in the face of the enemy. Created in 1792 by Poland's King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, it is considered one of the oldest military decorations in the world still in use. Through different occupations and divisions of Poland, the award has been banned and reintroduced several times. The hereditary Order was presented to. Chmaruk on April 8, 1947 by the Polish government in exile in England (with crown on the eagle signifying "independent" Poland, the Soviet-block Poland took the crown off the eagle on everything, including the flag and medals.) Attending Chmaruk's funeral was the Deputy Consul from the Polish Consulate - Chicago who presented a letter from the Foreign Minister of Poland, The Polish Embassy Air Force and Military Attaches from Washington DC, and a U.S. Air Force Honor Guard from Washington DC. Bad weather prevented a Hercules C-5A Transport Airplane and its Polish crew from flying overhead at the start of the April 18 burial. As part of Poland's NATO commitment, 50 C-5A airplanes are being purchased and training is taking place in Texas. A letter from Piotr Erenfeicht, chief of Embassy Protocal for the U.S. Poland Embassy, included, "Let me express my deepest condolences on the passing of your father Mr. Bazyli Henryk Chmaruk, recipient of the highest military honor - the Virtuti Militari. Indeed, based on the information you sent us, Mr. Chmaruk was not only a patriot, but a courageous man who risked the highest sacrifice in the name of freedom of his homeland, Poland. His biography is inspiring to the next generations." A letter from Radek Sikorski, Foreign Minister of Poland, included, "He was a man to be remembered. A distinguished air force pilot who fought against all odds for our freedom. He has not been rewarded when the arms were laid down. Despite the efforts of heroes like Bazyli Chmaruk, Poland had to wait for true freedom for another five decades. Thanks to people like him, we are living it now. His life and conduct gave meaning to the notion of courage and integrity. He was a man we can learn from." Looking back on his father's amazing career, Nick related how it came about, "He was born in a little village to a peasant family. When he was a little boy he saw an aeroplane in the sky and asked his sister Helen what it was. When she told him, he said that is what he was going to do. "At age 16 he was accepted to the first air force academy in the world at Bydgoszcz, Poland. When he asked his mother if he should go, knowing if she said yes it meant he may not see her again, she said he must go. Upon graduation WW II broke out and his destiny was in God's hands." Nick said he would be traveling to Poland this summer to inquire about erecting a monument to his father and the other fellow Polish Virtuti Militari recipients who served during World War II. In that way future generations can learn and also remember the valor displayed by his father and the other Polish heroes.

 

 

 

 


Piotr Górka © 2007