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He was caught twice trying to escape and tortured by the Gestapo before finally breaking out of prison on his third attempt. Sgt. Beyrle ran toward the East and encountered Soviet soldiers who allowed him to join their unit. He was seriously injured in fierce fighting and later recuperated in a Red Army field hospital.

By March 1945, he arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, where diplomats informed him that he had been reported killed in action. At home, his family already had held a service for him.

Sgt. Beyrle, who died in 2004, inspired his son to join the Foreign Service and concentrate his career on Russia and Eastern Europe.

In his remarks, Mr. Beyrle said: “It is my hope that this exhibition will acquaint you with the Joe Beyrle that I knew: the loving father and generous man who just happened to live one of the most extraordinary and unique stories to come out of the Second World War.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email The column is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.