Salute Our Heroes: World War ll veteran receives ‘Cross of the Brave’ on 95th birthday

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 10:06 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - On his 95th birthday, Jaroslaw Piekałkiewicz received the Cross of the Brave from the Polish government. The honor was for his bravery during World War II.

Jaroslaw Piekalkiewicz was just a boy in Poland when World War ll first broke out. He recalls a moment he first realized the seriousness when he and his brother were playing outside.

“We heard a child crying and we looked down and there was a German policeman beating a child with a revolver,” said Piekalkiewicz. “We shouted to him to stop and he turned around and started shooting at us, this is the first time I felt bullets whistling by my ears not the last one but the first one.”

From that moment Piekalkiewicz knew he was going to fight for his country and his freedom.

Piekalkiwcz would go on to serve an active role in the war.

He was captured as a POW by the Nazis.

“One night we spent the night in the farm and I broke into a shed in which potatoes were being cooked for pigs. We stole all of the potatoes and a German soldier picked me and two other POWs and he was going to execute us as an example that you don’t steal in Germany. We were facing the firing squad already but before he shouted fire, somebody shouted stop halt and it was a German major who was just passing in a car.”

After successfully escaping capture, He joined the Polish 2 corps where he climbed the ranks for his bravery. Years later, Piekalkiewicz finally received official recognition for his efforts in his home surrounded by his family.

“I have a wonderful family, they all care for me very much and the fact that I lived up to ninety five is very much due to the care I get from my family and its mutual because I just love them very much because its mutual. I try to be a good father and now I’m trying to be a good grandfather.”

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