World War II historian Jiří Klůc, left, is shown with Ladislav Jindra, a participant in D-Day, who is now 103. Klůc will be interviewing other WWII veterans during his trip to Iowa. (photo/Jiří Klůc)

Note: “Stories of Czech-Americans in WWII” will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2024, at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The event is free and open to the public. If you know of a living WWII veteran in Iowa, leave a comment, below.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — World War II historian Jiří Klůc, a doctoral student at Charles University in Prague, was so captivated by the story of Mike Bisek of Cedar Rapids that he knew he wanted to include him in his dissertation.

Now 101, Bisek, a U.S. Army Air Corps photographer/gunner, and fellow crewmates bailed out over Nazi-occupied France after their B-24 bomber was hit by enemy fire during their final bombing mission.

Read about Mike Bisek’s WWII story

Mike Bisek, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is shown in a photo during his time in service during World War II. (photo/courtesy Mike Bisek)

“His story is amazing. It could be a Hollywood movie,” said Klůc, who will have the opportunity to interview Bisek and other veterans this week, with help from the Cedar Rapids-based Czech Heritage Foundation.

The nonprofit is sponsoring his trip from the Czech Republic to Iowa, where Klůc will interview some of Iowa’s remaining WWII veterans and visit the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo; Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids and Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. 

Last year, an estimated 1,200 WWII veterans were living in Iowa, with approximately 130 nationwide dying per day. Less than 1 percent of the 16.4 million Americans who served during World War II are still alive today.

Klůc plans to begin interviews of area veterans this Wednesday, June 26, shortly after his arrival in Cedar Rapids, and hopes to meet other WWII veterans during his week-long trip to Iowa.

His presentation, “Stories of Czech-Americans in WWII,” will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2024, at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, and will include stories of veterans gathered during his research. Some of the WWII veterans plan to attend.

The event, sponsored by the Czech Heritage Foundation, is free and open to the public.

Jiří Klůc meets via Zoom with members of the Czech Heritage Foundation board of directors in Cedar Rapids in April 2024. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Jim Gruntorad, board president of the foundation, said the project fulfills the nonprofit’s mission of preserving, celebrating and maintaining the rich culture of the Czech community for future generations.

“This is a rare opportunity to capture first-hand memories of some of our remaining WWII veterans, including those with Czech ancestry,” Gruntorad said. “The Czech Heritage Foundation fully supports preserving their stories, and acknowledging the contributions of Czech-Americans, during this singular project before the last of our Greatest Generation has passed.”

Membership in the Czech Heritage Foundation is accepted globally. Find more information on the organization’s website:

Mike Bisek is shown with a photo of himself and his future wife in Biloxi, Mississippi, while he was still serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps. (photo/Cindy Hadish)