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Lech W. Solecki, fought in Polish Army in WWII; Feb. 25, 1924 -- June 17, 2011

Lech W. Solecki, who fought for Poland in World War II before moving to the United States, where he worked for more than 30 years for Pivot Point Corp., died Friday in his Buffalo home. He was 87.

Born in Poland, Mr. Solecki and his family were forced from their home in 1940 due to the Soviet occupation and were exiled to Siberia.

Too young to fight, Mr. Solecki was ordered to gather firewood for the barracks, suffered frostbite and was sent to a nearby hospital. After almost a year at the camp, Mr. Solecki and his family fought through bitter cold and hunger for nearly a month to reach Tashkent, a rallying point for a newly formed army. There, Mr. Solecki joined the 14th Infantry Regiment but became ill with typhus and took two months to recover.

Mr. Solecki eventually joined the Polish Army, where he served in an elite intelligence unit, conducting multiple reconnaissance missions in occupied Poland and manned a radio station headquarters in London during the Warsaw uprising.

A lance corporal, Mr. Solecki also was trained as a paratrooper, radio specialist and map reader. For his services to Poland, he received the War Medal, the Defense Medal and the Siberian Medal for surviving the work camps.

After the war, Mr. Solecki was reunited with his displaced family in Scotland. After several years, he brought his family to the United States.

Mr. Solecki attended several area colleges through the refugee program before being hired as a machinist for Pivot Point Corp. in 1951. He spent more than half of his career as a shift superintendent before retiring in 1982.

A longtime resident of the Kaisertown area, Mr. Solecki was an active member of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church; Post 1, Polish Army Veterans Association; the Polish-American Congress; the Plewacki Stamp Club; and the Mickiewicz Library.

Mr. Solecki received the Pulaski Award for outstanding community service.

His wife of 58 years, Eleonora Welnowski Solecki, died in 2008.

He is survived by three sons, Lech, Andrew and Marek, and three daughters, Kristine Adinolfi, Dana Foster and Irena Manikowski.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Stanislaus Church, 123 Townsend St., after prayers at 9:15 in Buszka Funeral Home, 2005 Clinton St.