Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Wartime Wednesday: Secret Agent Stephanie Czech Radar

Wartime Wednesday: Stephanie Czech Radar

Pixabay/F. Muhammad
How well do you know your neighbors? I can honestly answer: Not too well. We moved into our current house three years ago, and our “across the street” neighbors stopped to introduce themselves, and we’ve spoken several times since then, but usually about incidentals. We met the next-door neighbor when our tree fell, and have never even seen the neighbor on our right. Turns out we’re not alone in that.

Imagine the shock when Alexandria, Virginia resident, Michael Golden discovered that his neighbor Stephanie Czech Radar was a former agent with the Office of Strategic Services during WWII. An unassuming lady, she never once talked about her work with the organization. The child of Polish immigrants, she grew up to graduate from Cornell University with a degree in Chemistry. She worked in the cafeteria, and her parents sold their wedding rings to afford tuition.

She remained fluent in Polish, so joined the Women’s Army Corps as a translator. Near the end of the
Courtesy Cornell Univ.

war, the OSS recruited her to take advantage of her fluency. Her accent, appearance, and mannerisms were just what they needed. Sent to Europe in 1945, Captain Czech arrived at the U.S. embassy in Berlin wearing civilian clothes and delivered the report she’d been carrying. She made her way to Poland where she claimed to be a clerk for the embassy in Warsaw and searching for distant relatives in her spare time.

In reality, she was one of only two members of the OSS stationed in the country, working for the counterintelligence section known as X2 (a department so secretive some who served in the group didn’t even know the name). She wandered the countryside spying on Soviet troop movements and gathering information on their intelligence services. She blended in easily but lived under constant fear of being arrested by the Soviets who were rounding up people right and left. Later she would say, “They gave me a gun, but I never carried a gun. What the heck was I gonna do with a dumb gun?”

She also told of her last mission…approaching the checkpoint, she saw the Soviet security agents acutely aware of the documents hidden under her clothes. If she was caught, she'd be sent to the gulag, perhaps worse. If she ran, they’d chase her. If she kept the papers, they’d find them. She took out the papers and calmly handed them to the man next to her, someone she was confident wouldn’t alert suspicion. “Take these,” she mumbled as she gave him the name of the recipient.

As feared, she was detained, but the Soviets found no evidence, so had to release her. She walked free, hopeful that the secret papers were on their way to their destination.

Courtesy Cornell Univ.
Because of her work, she was nominated for the Legion of Merit twice, but the request was denied each time. No one seems to know why. It wouldn’t be until nearly seventy years later when friends and family campaigned to have her recognized that she would be awarded this prestigious medal. She passed away in 2016 at 100 years of age and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Learn more about Stephanie who won the Virginia award for her service:


Spies & Sweethearts

She wants to do her part. He’s just trying to stay out of the stockade. Will two agents deep behind enemy lines find capture…or love?

1942: Emily Strealer is tired of being told what she can’t do. Wanting to prove herself to her older sisters and do her part for the war effort, the high school French teacher joins the OSS and trains to become a covert operative. And when she completed her training, she finds herself parachuting into occupied France with her instructor to send radio signals to the Resistance.

Major Gerard Lucas has always been a rogue. Transferring to the so-called “Office of Dirty Tricks” to escape a court-martial, he poses as a husband to one of his trainees on a dangerous secret mission. But when their cover is blown after only three weeks, he has to flee with the young schoolteacher to avoid Nazi arrest.

Running for their lives, Emily clings to her mentor’s military experience during the harrowing three-hundred-mile trek to neutral Switzerland. And while Gerard can’t bear the thought of his partner falling into German hands, their forged papers might not be enough to get them over the border.

Can the fugitive pair receive God’s grace to elude the SS and discover the future He intended?

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