May 01, 2010

Hero of Two Nations

Joseph Beyrle is believed to be the only U.S. soldier to fight in both American and Soviet units during World War II. That distinction, along with the fact that his son, John Beyrle, is the current U.S. Ambassador to Russia, made Beyrle the focus of a special St. Petersburg exhibition opened on the eve of the 65th anniversary of Russia’s victory over the Nazis.

The exhibition, “Joseph R. Beyrle – A Hero of Two Nations,” presents 260 artifacts from Beyrle’s life and military career, including a collection of his medals, uniform and photographs. Beyrle’s war began on D-day and ended near Berlin, in a Soviet tank battalion.

Beyrle parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944. But after an unlucky landing he lost contact with his unit and was isolated. He nonetheless managed to explode a Nazi electrical substation and toss grenades into a group of Nazi soldiers.

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