John J. Kapstein

John-J.-Kapstein-1943

John J. Kapstein (1918-2016) is the only American buried in Moscow’s in Novodevichy Cemetery, roughly the Russian equivalent of Arlington National Cemetery. A native of Providence, he graduated from Hope High School and enlisted in the 103rd Field Artillery of the RI National Guard in 1934 by lying about his age. He eventually became a highly decorated World War II bomber pilot. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, eight Air Medals, the French Croix de Guerre, and the Russian medal of the Great Patriotic War, all related to his combat missions flying the B-26 Martin Marauder in the Mediterranean Theater. His final assignment was the Office of the Inspector General of the Army Air Forces at West Point. After the war Kapstein helped train pilots and acquire aircraft for the newly created country of Israel. Kapstein later became a force in East-West business, entertainment, and cultural trade during the depths of the Cold War; he received the Russian Order of Friendship in October, 2009, from the Russian Ambassador to France. He died in Italy in 2016 in his 99th year.

 

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