Too often people forget that Britain and France went to war with Germany over Poland. They forget that those Polish Sailors that fought in the Battle of the Atlantic, those who flew with the RAF in Battle of Britain, the infantry that pushed up the boot of Italy, the armored forces that pushed with the British from Normandy through the low countries and into Germany, the paratroopers of MARKET GARDEN - when the war was over, they realized there was no country to come home to for them.
Communism was defeated too late for most of them. As Poland gets its footing, it is good to see them reach out as they are, to thank those who were left looking over the wall.
Jerzy Tumaniszwili was a 23-year-old naval gunnery officer in the Polish navy when his destroyer left port to escape the imminent 1939 German invasion of his county.
He achieved the rank of lieutenant commander while serving 5 1/2 years during World War II, chasing German U-boats and protecting troops on D-Day in 1944.
Tumaniszwili emigrated to the United States after the war because he was considered an enemy by the Communist regime that had taken over Poland.
Now at 92, Tumaniszwili sets sail these days mostly on rivers and lakes. But his birth country isn't finished thanking him: The government is honoring him as a rear admiral in the Polish navy.
"It's probably because I'm the oldest one still alive," Tumaniszwili said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It really surprised me."
The Polish ambassador, Robert Kupiecki, was scheduled to present the promotion to Tumaniszwili at a ceremony on Sunday in Portland on behalf of Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
The promotion was approved last year, but Tumaniszwili was unable to attend a ceremony in Poland, according to Piotr Erenfeicht, counselor of political affairs at the Polish embassy in Washington, D.C.
Erenfeicht said promotions of retired servicemen occur "from time to time" and that other Polish Americans have received the honor.
But he said it was clear from his record that Tumaniszwili deserved it.
"When looking at his biography, you can see, he was very honored, very respected, a hero of the Second World War," Erenfeicht said.
After the war, Tumaniszwili found a job with a medical equipment company in Waterbury, Conn., and was part of a team that helped invent a disposable hypodermic syringe.
He took the name George Trapper, a combination of his Polish first name, which translates to George, and the pseudonym, "Trapper," which he used when he wrote of Polish navy exploits for British newspapers during the war — "trapping" U-boats.
Tumaniszwili stayed with the Connecticut company through changes in ownership until retirement, which he had decided would be in Oregon after a visit in 1976.
"My wife and I, we just fell in love with Oregon," Tumaniszwili (pronounced too-MAHN-ish-veel-ee) said from his home nestled in the Cascade Range foothills between Portland and Mount Hood.
Tumaniszwili met his wife, Jean, in England, and they had a son and daughter. "When my ship docked in Plymouth in 1940, I met her and fell in love with her," Tumaniszwili said. "I said, 'This is it, this is my wife.'"
She died four years ago, survived by her husband, their children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, many of whom will be on hand to see Tumaniszwili honored with his promotion.
Mrs. OMC or E40, feel free to supply translation. Good to watch the video anyway.
UPDATE: A little help translation wise from Mrs. OMC - a woman of very fine Polish stock.
Gen...hero of Polish Navy ; The man says he is honored to greet very important guest - 93 years old general. They welcome him in their city .
The man says the general went to school there ... ; Gen.fought for Polish freedom and independance together with his friends ;
The Gen. talks about his memories - says he was active - run 100 meters as representant of his school , he played ping - pong, he played chess but not very well , he song in a choir ,in 1934 he sailed together with 4 other friends with 2 cayacs - they sailed towards the Baltic sea, it took them about 3 weeks, they got along Vistula river to Gdansk and they had many adventures along the way ...Humble man; great life.