Balazs Miklos “Mike” Szabo was born on July 26, 1939, to Balazs Szabo and Anna (Gorbe) Szabo in Jaszarokszallas, Hungary. He was an only child.
He passed on Oct. 6, 2022, in Rolla, Mo., after a long history of illness.
He grew up a farmer’s son during World War II. Hungary was occupied by Germany when he was born. He remembers his father grew the best watermelons in the area.
At age six, Russia came to Hungary, which ceased his schooling. He watched the tanks and “Rata” or fighter planes from his window sill.
After the war, Russia was given all of Hungary and Mike became a card carrying communist.
At age 16 ½, in 1956, Mike escaped Hungary through Austria. He crossed the border with machine guns firing over his head. He said he ran so hard through the field he was able to jump a six foot black dirt border.
He stayed in Austria about 4 months in an Army refugee camp.
He then traveled to Italy where they were taking a few hundred refugees. Nuns fed and clothed him. He choose Italy over France, he said, because of the weather and beaches. He joined the U.S. Army on Aug. 21, 1957, because recruiters showed him films about how great Army life was. He was 18 and he said this was the toughest time of his life.
The U.S. military flew him to Fort Jackson, S.C., to Language School. He was supposed to be there for 90 days to learn English but only got 60 days.
He took basic training at Fort Jackson with knowing about four words of English. From there he went to Fort Benning, Ga., to Medic School. He was a field medic for one year.
From Fort Benning he went to the DMZ of Korea.
In 1959, he left Korea to come to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he changed his MOS to a dozer operator and helped finish the airfield. Nine months later he went back to Korea as a construction engineer.
From Korea he went to Fort Dix, N.J. He got out of the military on Aug. 20, 1962. His reward for 5 years of service was naturalization papers. It’s at this point he added Miklos to his name and gave himself the nickname “Mike.”
He worked for a construction company in Washington DC for 9 months. He got fed up with them and rejoined the Army June 13, 1963.
From 1963 to 1965, he went to France and helped move the Army out of France.
In 1965 to 1983, he went to Germany where he met his wife Ursula Hublitz. and they were married in Basel Germany on Oct. 14, 1969. During this time, he was in Vietnam during 1968-1969 and 1970 to 1971 and Sharp Army Depot in California for 9 months in 1972. He also went to Fort Lee, Va., where he was the reserve advisor from 1980 – 1981.
In August 1983, he came back to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he stayed until his retirement as a Master Sergeant on July 31, 1987. Mike received the following awards during his service of 28 years, 10 months and 29 days:
National Defense Service Medal // Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Silver Service Star and 2 Bronze Service Stars // Vietnam Campaign Medal // Bronze Star Medal // Meritorious Service Medal // Army Good Conduct Medal – 6th Award // Humanitarian Service Medal // Army Achievement Medal // Army Service Ribbon // Overseas Service Ribbon – 4th Award.
He resided in the Evening Shade area until his health required him to be admitted to a long term skilled facility in Rolla, Mo., in May of 2020.
Mike enjoyed buying, selling, and working on antique cars. His favorite was the 1965 Mustang.
He was a member of the Roby Christian Church since 1977.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Balazs and Anna Szabo; and stepdaughter Heidi Sibayton.
A graveside service for Mike will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, at Palace Cemetery in Plato with Avon Lynch officiating. Military honors will be rendered. Arrangements entrusted to Evans Funeral Home, Houston. Online condolences may be left at www.evansfh.com.