Josef Prokopec was born in Stradoun near Vysoké Mýto finishing vocational oriented school as a painter.
In the spring of 1937 Josef Prokopec joined the West Bohemian Aeroclub and signed up for the “1000 Pilots” event of Masaryk’s aviation league completing the flying course in October 1937. The entry into the flight school was postponed due to the lack of places in flight schools. In 1938 having only flew maintenance flights Josef Projoopec joined the 1st Aviation Regiment in Hradec Králové. After the occupation he was released from the army and went to Poland in July 1939.
After its defeat, he was captured by the Soviet army. After more than a year of internment, Josef Prokopec got to England via Istanbul and Palestine, where he joined the Royal Air Force.
He completed basic pilot training in Britain and later continued training in Canada. After returning to Britain, he completed a short course in aviation technology and tactics and operational training.
From January 1944 he flew with the 310th Czechoslovak Air Force. fighter squadrons. He took part in bomber escorts, convoy protection and attacks on small land and sea targets, including the Normandy invasion. On October 28, 1944, he was transferred to the rank of F/Sgt. to the 312th MS. fighter squadron, with which he remained until the end of the war.
He returned to the liberated homeland with the other Czechoslovak airmen. With the 312th Squadron, he landed at the Planá Airport near České Budějovice at the 2nd Air Base of the 5th Fighter Regiment, where he worked, among other things, as an instructor and trained pilots from the Israeli Hagana squadron. In 1990, he received an Israeli award for this activity.
Josef Prokopec was discharged from the Air Force in 1949 as a Western Airman.working at the glassworks in Heřmanova Huť in the Pilsen region.
In 1991, by order of the President of the Republic, he was rehabilitated and promoted to the rank of colonel. Holder of three Czechoslovak war crosses, medals for bravery and a number of allied decorations.
Josef Prokopec died on July 5, 2010.
Lest we forget!
Photo: Memory of the nation