Stephanie Czech Rader, one of the most successful intelligence agents of post-WWII Poland



Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Stephanie Czech Rader. Stephanie was born to Polish immigrants in Poughkeepsie, New York, and was raised only knowing the Polish language and culture. School was rough because at first she did not speak English well, but soon mastered it and continued on to earn a full scholarship to Cornell University where she completed a chemistry degree in 1937.

Stephanie joined the Women’s Army Corps towards the end of World War II and was soon selected for service in the Office of Strategic Services due to her knowledge of Polish culture.

She was one of two OSS agents working out of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and traveled the country under the guise of finding family members in the aftermath of World War II.

This allowed her to acquire intelligence on Russian troop movements and socio-economic information unobtainable by Embassy officials.

She was, by all definitions, a spy. She knew that if she were captured, she would disappear.

“They gave me a gun, but I never carried a gun,” she said. “What the heck was I gonna do with a dumb gun?”

Stephanie died yesterday at the age of 100 in her Alexandria, Virginia, home. Only recently did her friends and neighbors realize that she was one of the most successful intelligence agents of post-war Poland.

In recent years, her friends and neighbors, together with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society, have championed on her behalf to see she is awarded the Legion of Merit. Stephanie’s superior officers had recommended her for this award in 1946 but the request was turned down the War Department for unknown reasons.

Regardless of awards, we now know the extent of her heroism and honor her service.

If interested in learning more about Capt. Czech, Shane Harris of the Daily Beast wrote a detailed account of her service: Will America’s 100-Year-Old Female Spy Finally Be Recognized for the Hero She Is?

Author

Tim Hudak

  joined the VA digital engagement team in December 2013. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations and enjoys wrestling his German shepherd, Capone (who wins more often than you would think).

Comments

  1. Edward C. Sims Jr    

    In 1990 I filed for service connected disability I was informed that my medical was destroyed in a fire, therefore I would not be able to prove my case.

  2. Richard Bernard Martin, Jr.    

    During active duty with USMC from 1966-1968. I spent approximately 1 year in Camp Lejune, before being deployed to Vietnam for 13 months.
    I have read much documentation about the water supply in Camp Lejeune being contaminated.
    I have recently had surgery to remove a portion of my colon.
    I am currently receiving V/A benefits for other military related disabilities.
    I would like further information on the ill effects of these contaminants.
    Thank you,
    Richard Bernard Martin, Jr.

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