Simas Kudirka


Simas Kudirka, was a radio operator on the fishing trawler Sovietskaya Litva.  

On November 23, 1970  he bravely jumped to the deck of a US Coast Guard vessel and requested political asylum. Standing along the rail of the Sovetskaya Litva, he first made his intentions known early in the afternoon to a Coast Guardsmen on the deck of the Vigilant, and finally made the leap to the cutter's flight deck across 12-feet separating the two ships late in the afternoon.

The American Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant moored alongside the Soviet  trawler, Sovietskaya Litva  in American waters, near Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

10 hours later Kudirka was subsequently forcibly removed from the US Coast Guard vessel and returned to the Soviet ship by force. Six Soviet sailors were allowed to board the Vigilant. They beat Kudirka unconscious, bundled him up in a blanket and ropes, and carried him back to the Sovetskaya Litva around 11:30 p.m. 

Upon his return to Lithuania, Kudirka was tried for treason and sentenced to ten years in the Gulag.

After  almost four years in Soviet labor camps it was learned that Kudrika's mother had been born in Brooklyn (but later returned to Lithuania).

The State Department therefore ruled that Kudirka had a valid claim to U.S. citizenship. A month later he was released from the Gulag and granted permission to go to the US.

In November 1974, with his wife, two children, and his mother, Kudirka arrived in the United States.

He initially lived in New Jersey and then the Bronx, N.Y., but later moved to Santa Monica, Calif., where he operated a landscaping business and served as an apartment superintendent.

Simas Kudirka, now 70, was back in Lithuania after 30 years as an émigré and considered purchasing a house there.

He returned to California.


Also see: Miroslav Medved



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