Dee and Alex

Dee Hielman and Alex Kadet.

Alexander Kadet celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and family on Sunday, March 15, 2020 at the Sunsites VFW Post 9977. The party was sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary members under the direction of Dee Hielman, president.

Aleksander Kawczynski was born in Poland near Warsaw on March 15, 1920. In September 1939 the Nazis invaded Poland, forcing Alex and his family to live under the Nazi regime. He was taken prisoner in 1943 and placed in a work camp in Germany where he toiled under adverse conditions with little food, bombing and long work hours. The Nazis needed able-bodied workers since most of the German men were serving in the military. Toward the end of the war when the Nazis were moving the workers to another location, Alex managed to escape and was taken under the wing of the Allies. He spent three years after WWII at Dachau, Germany where he served in the Polish American military guarding Nazi war prisoners.

Alex acquired his new name of Kadet after being rescued by the Allies and prior to the end of WWII. He was connected with the Polish underground to fight the Nazis and all members acquired new names so no member would be able to give a member’s correct name if they were captured by the Nazis. This protected other members of the underground and their families. When the United States offered refuge to homeless Europeans, Alex decided a new life in the United State of America sounded more appealing than returning to Poland, which was under the control of the USSR. Since Alex had been using his assumed name, and there were no legal papers to prove otherwise, he came to the US under the name of Kadet which has been his legal name since attaining US citizenship in 1954.

Alex crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a military transport arriving at Ellis Island on April 27, 1949. After clearing immigration service, he was transported by train to Georgetown, Iowa where he worked for his sponsor, Father Harry Ryan, a Catholic priest. He had little knowledge of the English language or American customs.

During his first year at Georgetown, Alex met a friend with whom he could communicate and who asked him to consider applying for a job at the Maytag Company in Newton, Iowa. He was hired at Maytag and worked for the company for 30 years.

He met a Polish girl, Kay, in Georgetown who was also a refugee and they married in 1957. In 1960 Alex decided to bring his niece Alena to the United States from Poland so she could have a better life. She completed her education in the United States and settled in Newton. Alena has one son, Bryan Van Benthuysen, and they both reside in Florida. After Kay’s death, Alex met and married Mabel, his present wife, on June 26, 1982. Alex and Mabel reside in Sunsites, AZ. Both are avid bridge players and socially active in the community. Alex just renewed his driver’s license and it is valid for five years. And he doesn’t even wear glasses! Amazing!

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