česky  english 

Advanced search
Article notification Print Decrease font size Increase font size

Karel Aster was Recognized by the Czech Republic’s Government

Karel Aster, the last survivor of 14 WWII veterans who volunteered for the United States Army in the Philippines was presented the Gratias Agit Award of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Czech Ambassador to the United States, H. E. Petr Gandalovič on Thursday, April 23, 2015 in Captiva, Florida.
 

Aster, at the age of 21, along with 13 other Czech nationals volunteered for the war effort of the United States Army in the Philippines.  Subsequently, all 14 Czech nationals became prisoners of war under the Japanese in 1942. Like so many others the crew of 14 participated in the Japanese “Victory March”. Those who survived the march were placed in “hell ships” for weeks on end where they were held like rats in wretched conditions.  Following the journey in the hell ships, Aster and his fellow shipmates still alive were encamped in the coal mine camps operated by the Japanese Army until the end of the war.

Prior to the war the Bata Shoe Company employed Aster when he was sent to the Philippines to help establish a production facility for the company.

Petr Gandalovič, the Czech Ambassador to the United States, presented to Aster on Thursday, April 23, the Gratias Agit Award from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Captiva, Florida at the Captiva Civic Association, 11550 Chapin Lane, Captiva. 

Aster was unable to attend the original presentation ceremony in Prague this past June. “The Gratias Agit Award is the highest honor the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs bestows on an individual,” said Gandalovič.  “I am honored to hand deliver the award to Karel, a true member of the greatest generation,” Gandalovič concluded. 

The Gratias Agit has been awarded since 1997 to acknowledge prominent personalities and non-governmental organizations who have committed themselves to working for the benefit of society, for the promotion of friendship among nations and for the promotion of the Czech Republic in the world. At present, it is the only statutory prize awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Media contact: Michael A. Murray, phone: 336 420 1751, email: mamurray@desales.com

1

1

2

2

3

3

1

1