Thursday, February 12, 2009

Anna's Story

Anna Papanek was just nineteen years old when she crossed the ocean alone on the ship USS Europa in 1939. The ship's manifest indicated that she was born in Brezova, Slovakia. Brezova is a small town in the Czech Republic, situated in the western foothills of the Little Carpathians mountain range; it has a population of less than 6,000 people, most of them of Lutheran or Roman Catholic faith.

Anna sailed from Bremen, Germany and landed in New York City on March 20, 1939. Her father, Stephen, sent her to the United States to escape the growing hostilities in Europe after the Nazis came to power in Germany.

Once here, Anna went to night school to learn English, quickly obtaining both her United States citizenship and a nursing degree. Six years later, almost to the day, on March 4, 1945 she enlisted in the Women's Army Corps, a branch of the regular Army. Her enlistment papers indicate that she was a resident of Essex County, New Jersey and that her occupation was midwife or practical nurse.

Four years later, on March 2, 1949, Sgt. Anna Papanek became the bride of fellow soldier, Sgt. Roy Murl Walker, in Munich, Germany. The photo you see above is of the happy couple flanked by Anna's maid of honor, Margaret Nemeth, and Roy's best man, M. Sgt. Jessie Whitlock. Murl was an army medic, and he and Anna met at a hospital, fell in love, and arranged to be married by a justice of the peace.

After completing their military service, the couple returned stateside where they both worked at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D. C. Eventually, they returned to Mississippi, Murl's home, and opened a grocery store. I'm sure many of you will remember seeing Murl and Anna at Walker's Big Star in downtown Fulton.

Anna was ever the patriot and never missed an opportunity to fly the flag of her adopted country. Although Murl is still living, Anna passed away in 2000. Anna's story seems appropriate as we approach Valentine's Day and remember her love for her country and for Roy Murl.


LPM said...

A Great Valentine Story!

Janice Tracy said...

Mona, Anna's Story is such a wonderful love story, and thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is a great story. It is even more great when you consider the "Ya'll ain't from here" attitude that was prevalent in our part of the world back in those days. Anna must have been a special person to have overcome that attitude.

James A. Born Tremont