SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Germany will join a local VFW to honor a local soldier who was killed in World War II.
It’s been 75 years since staff sergeant Joseph Prokop and two other Americans were executed by the Nazi police. A month ago General Theodore J. Wint, VFW Post 25 in Scranton, received a call from an officer with the U.S. Department of State in Germany.
“She said somebody from Germany is calling. I said Jermyn? What are you talking about Jermyn? They are probably looking for chicken dinners to be bought up,” Army veteran James Kuchwara said.
The consular officer was looking for family members of U.S Army Air Force staff sergeant Joseph Prokop. In 1945 his bomber squadron crashed with 10 american soldiers on board. Only four survived. Three of them were found by the Gestapo, secret police of Nazi Germany. One of them was Prokop.
All three were shot in the head because one was a Jew. For decades the soldiers were declared missing in action, until the phone call nearly 75 years later told the real story to Prokop’s 91-year-old sister
“This is the truth. This is closure to this family,” Kuchwara said.
On Monday, the 75th anniversary of Prokop and those two other deaths, the city of Hanau, Germany will be erecting a memorial plaque where they were killed at Gestapo headquarters.
“They discovered this. It was under the rug. They could of swept it back under the rug and left it go,” Kuchwara said.
After Prokop was killed, he was buried in an American cemetery in France in 1945. It wasn’t until 1949 his remains were positively identified and were brought to the Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton. Post 25 will be remembering Prokop on Monday at the same time Germany is holding their ceremony halfway around the world.
“It’s a story that Joseph Eugene Prokop wanted to say 75 years ago. That story is going to be told Monday,” Kuchwara said.
Joseph Prokop’s ceremony here at home will be held Monday morning at 8:30 at Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton.