Born on the 6th of June 1915 in Drohobycz, Poland. During school he took part in a glider program funded by the government. Coupled with his patriotism, Eagle Scout background and sense of adventure, there was little surprise when he was accepted by the Air Force Academy at Deblin. He finished his training at Deblin in 1939 commissioned as an officer with the “lucky thirteenth promotion. As a Second Lieutenant Pilot he was assigned to a fighter squadron in the 2nd Air Regiment, Krakow Squadron. It was in the unit that he began the war. With the front line collapsing and little remaining fuel or munitions, he was ordered with the other flyers to make for the border to fight again from allied fields. He was among a large contingent of Polish flyers that made it to Rumania only to be interned by a fearful Rumanian government. Through Greece and Yugoslavia he arriving by boat in France. In France he was selected for one of the first squadrons to be reequipped by the French to continue the flight. Joining the “Montpellier” Squadron, he quickly learned the characteristics of the MS 406 and adapted quickly to the French fighter plane. First by boat to North Africa and later to Great Britain, he rejoined the fight again this time beside the British. Assigned to 308 Squadron, (City of Krakow) he missed the Battle of Britain as he had stayed fighting in France too long to transition to British aircraft in time for the initial battle. By 1941, he and 308 Squadron were in the thick of the battle. He was selected for the award of his nation’s top military honors, the Virtuti Militari Cross and the Cross of Valor. As the Air War went over occupied Europe from the British Skies, losses among Fighter command escalated. The experienced Polish flyers in 1942 made up almost 20% of the RAF flyers and constituted the second largest Air Force until the arrival of the US forces in strength in late 1943. As the Allies air offensive gained momentum, increasingly the fighter squadrons were called upon for more tactical missions. It was during a ground-attack rhubarb that F/O Chciuk was forced to bale from his flak damaged aircraft over occupied France. Injured upon landing, he was captured by the Germans and sent to POW camp VI/B in Warburg. While a POW he teamed with some other Polish officers to form a singing quartet to lend some comfort to the general body of prisoners.As a footnote, upon the end of hostilities and their liberation, the quartet was sponsored by the Polish and British Air Forces and performed for many a camp and even on stage in London’s Theater District. Prior to their liberation he was moved to POW camp X/C where conditions were even worse. Not only did the Germans try to differentiate between the British and Polish officers serving with the RAF, but tried unsuccessfully to alienate them from each other through news of the Katyn Massacre and Yalta accords. Captain Chciuk made that final flight on the 7th of October 2006 when he passed away at the age of 91.
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