Q: Was Mike Strank Slovak?
Mike Strank was born on 10 November 1919 in Jarabiná, North-East Slovakia. He died on 1 March 1945 on the Island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific theater of war.
Mike immigrated as a small boy (called Michal Strenk then) with his mother Marta née Grofik on 4 August 1922, a year after his father Vasiľ (Vasily). Both parents gave their language as Slovak on immigration.
Erroneous military record
It is not clear why the U.S. military records list the same date for Mike's birthday, but give his birth place as Conemaugh, PA, (Cambria County; rather than in modern Conemaugh Township, he and his family lived at 121 Pine Street in what is the Borough of Franklin today, all part of the Johnstown metropolitan area). The error has been copied in several publications.
As a minor, Mike became U.S. citizen automatically with his father in 1935, but never received his citizenship papers (which may explain the misstated place of birth in the military record). The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services symbolically rectified their ommission and presented his certificate of naturalization to his relatives at a ceremony in Arlington on 29 July 2008.
Mike's birth and baptism is entered in the parish records at Jarabiná. It has been a predominantly Rusyn village and Mike's distant relatives in the village identify as Rusyn, while Mike's parents said they spoke Slovak.