Emilia Gondek Fudala, 93, was recently invited to Italy to receive recognition from the Prime Minister of Poland.
Fudala says she did it all in the name of freedom.
Last month, 53 war veterans from around the world were honored for their war efforts at the 70th anniversary of the battle at Monte Cassino. The Polish company who played an integral part in this decisive World War II victory included Binghamton resident Emilia Fudala.
"My company was a transportation company. We have an order to pick up all the supplies for the front line. And we delivered to the first front line. Medical supplies, ammunition, food, water, whatever was necessary," said Fudala.
When Russia invaded Poland, Fudala was sent to a Russian labor camp. Then, when Germany attacked Russia, Fudala and other prisoners were turned over to England to join the Allied effort. She and other Polish women were trained as truck drivers in Palestine and eventually took part in supplying the battle in Italy.
"I am proud that I take a small part, as I call small part, to do the job, what should be done," said Fudala.
The veterans were invited back to Cassino, Italy, to pay tribute at a Polish military ceremony and an open-air mass for those who were buried.
The Prime Minister of Poland presented Mrs. Fudala with this trophy, which is very heavy. Now the weight is meant to symbolize just how heavy the emotions of the war were, and the battle for freedom.
The battle of Montre Cassino consisted of a series of four attacks in May 1944. 50,000 allied soldiers died during the battle, but with the assistance of the Polish troops, the Germans were defeated. Fudala says she was willing to fight to drive the Nazis from Italy and eventually her homeland of Poland.
"My first moment is to think freedom. Freedom is everything. If you lose freedom, you lose yourself," said Fudala.
Emilia Fudala came to Binghamton in 1951 with her husband and immediately got involved with the local Polish-American community.
She has been a chief organizer and leader at the Polish Community Center and also worked for the American Civic Association.
The Polish Community Center is having a Veteran's Reception in her honor on Sunday June 22nd at 2 p.m.
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