Staff Sergeant Sylvester F. Dudek receiving the Polish Virtuti Militari award

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ddr-njpa-1-178 (G56.001)

Nippu Jiji Photograph Archive, "Gaijin" Collection

Caption on reverse: "Poles Decorate U.S. Flyer. Staff Sergeant Sylvester F. Dudek (right), the only enlisted man in the American forces to hold decorations from three nations, receives another citation, the Virtuti Militari, Poland's highest military award, from Air Vice Marshal Mateusz Izycki, Inspector General of the Polish Air Forces, for 'outstanding gallantry in action over enemy territory' as a gunner on a Polish bomber. Sergt. Dudek, who has completed 48 missions over enemy-occupied Europe, including 34 with Polish bombers and 14 with American Flying Fortresses, was at his gunner's post on a bombing mission to Frankfurt, Germany, when his oxygen apparatus went out of order. He told the pilot about it, but asked him to continue to the target. Flying at an altitude of more than 20,000 feet, the sergeant combatted the atmosphere and the enemy for 90 minutes. During that time he is credited with shooting down two German planes. In addition to the Virtuti Militari, Sergt. Dudek holds the British Distinguished Flying Medal; the Polish Cross of Valour and three bars, and the American Air Medal and two Oak Leaf Clusters. Born in the Eastern U.S., Sergt. Dudek is the son of Polish emigrants to America."

c.1940s

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