OSS Spy Stephanie Czech Rader Posthumously Given Legion of Merit

For nearly 70 years, Stephanie Czech Rader’s wartime past was a highly guarded secret.

stephanie czech rader

Stephanie Czech Rader during WWII

For decades, she was simply known as the wife of decorated Air Force General William S. Rader. But when the files of the secretive Office of Strategic Services (OSS) were declassified in 2008, Rader’s daring espionage work was exposed.

stephanie czech rader

Captain Stephanie Czech Rader with her husband Colonel William Rader on their wedding day (Photo: OSS Society)

Born to Polish immigrants and fluent in Polish, Stephanie Czech Rader, caught the eyes of the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA, who placed her in Poland from October 1945 to February 1946.

Although employed as a clerk at the American Embassy in Warsaw, her real mission was to spy on the Soviet military.

Rader traveled around Poland on her own as she clandestinely monitored Soviet troop movements, knowing full well, that if she was caught she could disappear without a trace.

In January 1946, Rader was nearly arrested at the German-Polish border while carrying top-secret documents. Luckily, before she was stopped, she managed to slip the material to another traveler instructing them to take the files to a safe address in Warsaw. For the rest of her tour of duty she would remain under intense 24-hour surveillance by Polish security.

stephanie czech rader

The formal award ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery (Photo: AP)

For her gallant service, her superiors recommended Stephanie Czech Rader for the U.S. Army’s Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, but the awards were turned down by the Army.

In January 2016, Stephanie Czech Rader died at the age of 100 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. On Wednesday, in a formal ceremony with full military honors, the Army posthumously awarded her the Legion of Merit that was denied her so many years ago.

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