Sixty-two years after U.S. Army Soldiers saved his life, a World War II Soviet Red Army veteran paid a visit to Iowa Friday to say "thanks." Sami Jalilov was captured by Germans in September of 1944 and taken to the infamous concentration camp in Auschwitz. He survived starvation, brutal mistreatment, a march to Augsburg, and a trip to Brescia, Italy.
It was in Italy, in April 1945, that U.S. troops liberated Jalilov and other POW’s. On Friday, Jalilov was with his grandson, Joma, at Camp Dodge in Johnston. Joma served as his interpretor as Jalilov was introduced to members of the Iowa National Guard’s 168th Infantry, who played a role in his liberation.
Joma told the Iowa World War II veterans that, thanks to their service, Jalilov is alive today and had four sons, 15 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Jalilov is now a citizen of Tajikistan.
Joma says his grandfather called him on his 82nd birthday and said he was like to visit America and thank the soldiers responsible for his liberation.
"That’s what he wanted to do for 60 years, and as he got older, he just wanted to fulfill one more missed and be here," Joma told the 168th Infantry members, who were gathered at the Camp Dodge for a 60th reunion. Jalilov plans to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.-C during his two-week stay in the United States. His grandson lives in Omaha.