Harry E. Stopek (1922-1980)
Harry E. Stopek was born on July 26, 1922 to a large family of Polish immigrants who settled in Illinois in 1913. One of five siblings, he spent his childhood in Chicago.
Stopek enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1942. He served with the Medical Detachment of the 253rd Infantry Regiment in France, following the advance of 63rd Infantry Division into Germany. During 125 consecutive days of contact with the enemy, Stopek risked his life to evacuate wounded men for emergency medical treatment. The 253rd Infantry Regiment broke through a sector of the Siegried Line in late March 1945, eventually reaching Tauberbischofsheim, Germany in late April, where they received a well-deserved rest. At the end of the war, Stopek was transferred to Army Intelligence. In September 1945 he joined the MFAA as an Archives Assistant working alongside Monuments Man Sargent B. Child, Advisor on Archives to the MFAA Branch of the U.S. Group Control Council. One of Stopek’s assignments included a month in England at the University of Bristol investigating chemical methods of manuscript preservation.
Following his discharge from the U.S. Army in February 1946, Stopek returned to Chicago. Although little is known about Stopek’s activities after the war, he participated in community theater groups, including Best Off Broadway Players, Inc. in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He died in Chicago, Illinois on September 17, 1980.
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