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6 May, 2010 17:02

WWII hero of two nations commemorated in Moscow

Moscow's Museum of Military Glory is holding an exhibition to honour the hero of two nations and the father of the US ambassador to Russia.

A traveling exhibit of war artifacts of the only soldier known to have fought for both the US and Soviet armies in World War II has finally arrived in Moscow.

Airborne trooper Joseph Beyrle was captured after parachuting into France and spent 10 months in Nazi POW camps.

He escaped in the spring of 1945 and then joined a Russian tank unit.

Knowing only two words in Russian, "American" and "comrade," he served with the unit for a month, helping liberate the prisoners at the camp from which he escaped.

“At a time when he was absolutely defenseless they took him in, they gave him a weapon, they fed him – he was starving in the prison camp,” the hero’s son and US Ambassador John Beyrle told RT. “This escaped American soldier was their ally. And he realized that being with them he was in safe hands.”

Opening the exhibition at Moscow's Poklonnaya Gora today, John Beyrle emphasized that the exhibit will help remind Russians that they have far more in common with Americans than they sometimes think.

“My father wanted to fight with Soviet soldiers till the end,” John Beyrle said. “He was wounded but still got the chance to go with them all the way to Berlin. The fact that he was determined to do so is very powerful symbolism that I’m proud to remember.”