Polish Army Major Hieronim Dekutowski was born on 24 September 1918 in Tarnobrzeg. Dekutowski was characterized by an active attitude of patriotic responsibility already in his youth. He belonged to the “Jan Henryk Dąbrowski” Scout Team and was a member of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He fought as a volunteer in the Polish defensive war of 1939, and on 17 September he crossed the border with Hungary, where he was interned. He escaped from the internment camp and fled to France, where he fought against the Germans as a member of the Polish Armed Forces. He was then evacuated to England. In March 1943 he was sworn in as a member of the so-called “Cichociemni” (the Silent Unseen) paratroopers. He adopted the pseudonyms “Zapora” and “Odra” (he mainly used the first one, however). On the night of 16-17 September 1943 Hieronim Dekutowski was sent to the “Garnek” 103 outpost in the vicinity of Wyszków, as part of the “Neon 1” operation during which members of the Silent Unseen paratroopers were parachuted into the Polish territory. The flight from England aboard the Halifax BB-378 “D” aeroplane, which belonged to the RAF, lasted 12 hours and 30 minutes.
Dekutowski was arrested by the communist security services in September 1947 in Nysa, together with the commanders of his group’s subunits. The captured freedom fighters were transported to the detention centre at Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw and were subjected to brutal interrogation. On 15 November 1948 seven members of Dekutowski’s unit were sentenced to death by a communist court. Hieronim Dekutowski was murdered by a shot in the back of the head on 7 March 1949. His remains were only found and identified in 2013. For many years of the Polish People’s Republic, the communist authorities purposefully distorted his biography. The situation was different in the West, where in 1964 the legitimate Government of the Republic of Poland in exile posthumously awarded Major Hieronim Dekutowski “Zapora” with the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari. It was only in 1994 that the Warsaw Regional Court determined that Hieronim Dekutowski and his murdered soldiers were engaged in the struggle for the sovereignty of the Polish State.