On this Veterans Day 2015 we honor the brave monks of St. Procopius Abbey who served as military chaplains during the great wars of the 20th century.
Father Alphonse Biskup, O.S.B.
Toward the end of World War I, the National Alliance of Czech Catholics (the Svaz) a very influential force in the movement for the independence of Czechoslovakia, sponsored a Catholic chaplain for the Czechoslovak Legion in France. From May 1918 to September 1919 Father Alphonse Biskup of St. Procopius Abbey served with the 21st Regiment of the Armeé Tchécoslovaques (as the French called the Czechoslovak Legion )first at the western front, then in Czechoslovakia until the unit was demobilized when Czechoslovakia was stabilized as an independent nation. Fr. Alphonse was awarded the Croix de Guerre on December 12, 1918.
We invite you to read about Fr. Alphonse in Fr. James Flint’s article that was published in the March-December, 2002 issue of the American Benedictine Review (volume 53, no. 2, pages 175-192):
Fr. Charles Kolek (1908-1992) served in the Navy, first at Pearl Harbor, then on Palmayra Island, then at Great Lakes Naval Station, finally as a chaplain on a new heavy cruiser that was on its shakedown cruise at Guantanamo Naval Base when the war ended. He remained in the Naval Reserve until 1965.
Fr. George Kuska, O.S.B.
Fr. George Kuska (1912-1999), though of impaired eyesight and accepted by the Army only for “limited service,” nonetheless was sent to France three months after D-Day. An automobile accident after the war ended further damaged his eyes and left him legally blind for the rest of his life.
Fr. Victor Laketek, O.S.B.
Fr. Victor Laketek (1911-1996) served with the Army Air Force at bases in Maine, Florida, California, and Canton Island in the Pacific. He would be recalled to chaplain service (again in Maine) during the Korean War.
Fr. Luke Ouska, O.S.B.
Fr. Luke Ouska (1908-1984) was a chaplain with the Army’s Ninth Infantry Division. He arrived in France ten days after D-Day and was never very far from the front lines, sometimes using the hood of a jeep as an altar for Mass. While his division was heavily engaged in the Battle of the Bulge, he learned that his brother had been killed in that encounter. Fr. Luke received the Bronze Star for his service.
For additional photos, please visit our display on the 3d floor of the Library.
Photographs and narratives of St. Procopius Abbey veterans
were provided by Abbey Archivist, Fr. James Flint, O.S.B.