Mazynski was truly a great patriot by Bob Karolevitz A truly great patriot has died.
His name was Marek Mazynski, a naturalized American citizen, but always an avid advocate of his native Poland.
Born in Lwow � the City of the Lions � on Sept. 7, 1913, he was only a child when Poland was re-established in 1919 after World War I. He grew up in the happy interim when his country was restored after being divided among Russia, Prussia and Austria-Hungary for more than a century.
As a young teen-ager, he was enrolled in a military cadet school in 1927. Seven years later he became a student at the Polish Air Force College, graduating in 1937 and receiving a commission as a second lieutenant of engineers.
Little did he know that in just two years life would take a disastrous turn for him and his beloved Poland.
Actually the Mazynski saga deserves book-length telling. First he was captured by Russian troops from whom he escaped. Given a new name � Stanislaw Gerwazy Koslowki � by the Polish Underground, he was directed to go to France through Romania.
Unfortunately, he was discovered by a Soviet patrol, wounded and again taken prisoner. He was sent to Siberia where he was forced to work in various salve labor camps until � on Sept. 7, 1941, his birthday � he received miraculous news.�
Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had created a new alliance against the Nazis, and something like 1,500,000 were set free from Soviet prisons. That included Mazynski, his real name restored.
He next traveled almost 3,000 miles on what he called �a luxury train for cattle� to a Polish Army camp. From there he went to Archangel, Murmansk, where he eventually caught a ship which took him to Scapa Flow, Scotland. Then, finally, he was assigned to the Polish Air Force under British command. He spent the rest of the war as a flight engineer.
But there was another chapter.
In 1944 his youngest sister � Danusia � became a member of the Parasol Battalion of the Polish Underground. As such, she participated in the courageous but ill-fated Warsaw Uprising of that year, only to be killed, at age 19, in a Luftwaffe attack. For that, Marek never forgave the Germans.
Following V-E Day, he, like thousands of his fellow servicemen, were stranded in England. At age 35 he opted to be resettled in South Africa, and so he called upon a professional typist to prepare emigration documents for him. The stenographer was Linda Callendar, and to make a long story short, romance blossomed and they were ultimately married on April 13, 1949.
Meanwhile, Marek had
become involved in the newly formed Polish Air Force Association, the organization through which our paths would eventually cross.
The Mazynskis came to the U.S. in 1955, the South African venture long forgotten. Being short on funds, they decided to work their way across the country by Greyhound bus and, in time, in their used 1949 Dodge. On the way they visited state capitals, Polish acquaintances and always called on Wings of the Polish Air Force Association.
Their odyssey included South Dakota, too. In Pierre, they met Gov. Joe Foss and had a long talk about war-time aviation. Then it was on to their ultimate destination: Los Angeles.
My association with Marek came when I wrote the book Flight of Eagles with the late Ross Fenn. It was about the American flyers in the Kosciuszko Squadron in the almost forgotten Polish-Russian War of 1919-20. In doing his research, Fenn became acquainted with Mazynski, and then so did I.
After that there ensued a voluminous correspondence, and Phyllis and I even visited them when they managed an apartment in Pasadena in 1992. He had retired from his job with the Bank of America � but he never did separate himself from the Polish Air Force Association which always remained dear to his heart.
Needless to say, Marek Mazynski�s name is on the dedicatory page of Flight of Eagles. I truly wish I could have spent more time with him, but all I can do now is savor our few hours together.
Dedicating the book to him was the least we could do to repay Marek for his contributions and his unfailing support.
Goodbye, old friend!
� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz