obit: Louis Albert Slovak
- LOUIS ALOIS SLOVAK 1918-2009 WWII vet was face to face with death as POW Ellis County man escaped execution, was held 4 monthsLouis Alois Slovak was part of a reconnaissance patrol operating behind German lines in Belgium when his unit, resting in an abandoned barn, suddenly found itself surrounded and under fire.The 25-year-old - surprised and scared - tied a white cloth to his rifle barrel to surrender. The next thing he knew, he was in a line with other prisoners along a barn wall. Every third man was being shot, and soon a German soldier was pressing a rifle muzzle against his forehead."You Americans should be shot," the soldier declared.But before he pulled the trigger, the enemy soldier asked about the cross dangling from Mr. Slovak's pocket.Mr. Slovak displayed his rosary and declared that it would keep him safe.The German shot the next man in line.Mr. Slovak lived the next four months as a prisoner before Allied victory was declared in Europe. A 190-pound Ellis County farmer before the war, he weighed just 88 pounds when he was liberated.He lived out an everyday life in Ennis, and it would be more than 40 years before he discussed the event with his family.Mr. Slovak, 91, died Tuesday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas of complications of a series of strokes.A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today at St. John Neponucene Catholic Church in Ennis. He will be buried with military honors in the church's cemetery.Dodi Sykora of West, Texas, was more than 40 before she learned of her father's World War II experience.It took him seven months back in Texas before he could trust his wife or the twins that were born while he was away, his daughter said."He just had a hard time relating back to reality," his daughter said.Mr. Slovak became socially active in the close Czechoslovakian community in Ennis. He was a farmer but also worked in town for Leggett & Platt Inc., Norris Lumber Co. and the Pearl Beer distributing company.A Veterans Affairs program for former POWs eventually enabled him to open up about his military service, his daughter said."Mother went into the POW wives' group, and Daddy went into the POW group," Mrs. Sykora said. "Daddy just began talking about the events .... We did not know."It never got easy."He always told the story with tears in his eyes," Mrs. Sykora said.Mr. Slovak was born in Creechville, Texas, east of Ennis.He was drafted into the Army in March 1941 and served three years in the Panama Canal Zone.On Jan. 3, 1944, he married Lillian Frances Vrana while on furlough home. The next day, he was shipped to Camp Maxey in Paris, Texas, for further military training.He was honorably discharged as a corporal in August 1945. His honors included the Purple Heart.Mr. Slovak was active in St. John Neponucene Catholic Church, the Disabled American Veterans, American Prisoners of Wars, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7106, the Catholic Order of Foresters and KJT, a Czech fraternal organization."He was full of life; he enjoyed living," his daughter said.In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Slovak is survived by four sons, Michael Slovak of Coppell, Danny Slovak, Ronnie Slovak and Timothy Slovak, all of Ennis; another daughter, Judy Venable of Waxahachie; a brother, Bill Slovak of Ennis; a sister, Lillie Honza of Ennis; 13 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and one step-great-grandchild.
Dallas Morning News, The (TX) - April 4, 2009