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    Russian Museum Honors U.S. WWII Vet

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    Russian museum honors US WWII vet

    By IRINA TITOVA, Associated Press Writer Irina Titova, Associated Press Writer – Thu Feb 18, 4:32 pm ETST. 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.

    U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle attends the opening of the exhibition devoted to his father, Joseph R. Beyrle, a legendary World War II veteran who fought with U.S. and Soviet armies, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010. Russian Museum exhibit, titled 'Joseph R. Beyrle — A Hero of Two Nations,' opened in Russia on the life of the American believed to be one of only a few soldiers to fight for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union in World War II. Joseph Beyrle parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and was captured by the Germans. He escaped and joined up with Red Army troops.(AP Photo)

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    • 2 months later...

    Earlier this month I visited the Great Patriotic War Museum in Moscow, where they had this interesting exhibition on Beyrle, including some interesting photos, newspaper articles and his awards. I can post some photos if people are interested.

    Edited by Ferdinand
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    • 1 month later...

    I also had a uniform group to a fellow who fought for both the Americans and the Soviets. He was one of Darby's Rangers and was captured in January 1944. He was eventually freed from his POW camp by the Soviets and fought his way back to join up with the US forces. He was also the only US general officer killed by small arms fire in Vietnam while commanding the 199th Infantry Brigade.

    Interestingly, not two days ago did I get a copy of the 6 June 1945 Stars and Stripes newspaper that details yet another freed POW who fought with the Soviets, this time going into Berlin. Unfortunately for him, he was found to have suffered amnesia and didn't even remember his name...very interesting...


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    • 3 weeks later...

    That is beyond cool! I wonder if there are any of his original ribbon bars still around, with the two Soviet Orders? I bet that he quietly put them away during the Cold War. I bet a book/movie could be easily done on his adventures!

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