Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ukrainian Americans mourn fallen hero - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Mark Gregory Paslawsky, 55, the son of Ukrainian immigrants who was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey, was killed Aug. 19 near Donetsk, Ukraine, while fighting Russian-supported terrorists as a member of the volunteer battalion “Donbas” with the nom de guerre “Franko.” He was the only known American who fought alongside Ukrainian forces against terrorists sent by Russian president Putin (which he vehemently denies) who managed to seize several cities and towns in the eastern part of Ukraine next to
the Ukrainian-Russian border.

    Even though Paslawsky was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, with an active military service as a U.S. Army Ranger, he decided to volunteer to join the Ukrainian Army and to serve in Donbas as a private following the Russian occupation of
Crimea and subsequent staging by Russian operatives, some of whom were actively involved in the annexation of Crimea, the “separatist” reign of terror in the eastern part of Ukraine.

    Paslawsky moved to Ukraine shortly after the restoration of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, as did several other Ukrainian Americans and Ukrainian Canadians, to teach, establish businesses or help in any other capacity in the development of a free market and democratic institutions in free Ukraine. He worked as an investment banker and adviser in Kyiv, Kharkiv,
and Moscow.

    Approximately one week before his death, Paslawsky’s interview recorded by VICE News was made available on YouTube and was seen by many Ukrainian Americans who kept guessing who Donbas private Franko really was. In the interview, “Franko” said that he took Ukrainian citizenship shortly before he joined the Donbas battalion so that he could “fight as a Ukrainian.”

    His older brother Nestor Paslawsky; his uncle Taras Hunczak, a retired professor of Rutgers University; other relatives and his former friends from West Point; and the entire Ukrainian American community are proud of him but saddened by his death. It is the custom in Ukraine since the “Revolution of Dignity” (November 2013-February 2014) to
salute heroes with “Slava Ukrayini! — Heroyi Ne Vmyrayut!” (Glory to Ukraine! — Heroes do not die!)
                                                   • • •
    The raising of the Ukrainian national flag alongside the U.S. “Star Spangled Banner” in front of the North Port City Hall by members of Cpl. Roman G. Lazor Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans, and the reading of the North Port City Commission
proclamation designating “Ukrainian Independence Commemorating Day,” took place last Friday.

    The Post 40 veterans were led by post commander Eugene

A. Tomashosky, with UAV National Commander Ihor W. Hron. The national anthems, American and Ukrainian, were played and sung by those in attendance.

    The invocation by the Rev. Dr. Severyn Kovalyshin, pastor of North Port’s Ukrainian Catholic congregation, was followed by Mayor Jim Blucher reading the proclamation, with Commissioner Linda Yates standing next to him. Commander Tomashosky thanked the City Commission for the proclamation and spoke briefly about the significance of the 23rd anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence. Daria Tomashosky, president of the Ukrainian American Club of Southwest Florida, read the English translation of the 100-year-old-plus Ukrainian national anthem, “Shche Ne Vmerla Ukrayiny” (Glory and freedom of Ukraine did not perish).

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians Atanas Kobryn  

PHOTO PROVIDED Mark Paslawsky, 55, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, was killed Aug. 19 near Donetsk, Ukraine.

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