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Czech WWII pilot who for UK, France dies at 95

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Photo - FILE - This Sept. 23, 2013 file photo shows Brig. Gen. Miroslav Standera in Plzen, the Czech Republic. Standera, one of the last of the Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the French and British air forces during World War II, has died at age 95 in Plzen on Wednesday, Feb.  19, 2014. (AP  Photo/CTK, Petr Eret,File) Slovakia Out
FILE - This Sept. 23, 2013 file photo shows Brig. Gen. Miroslav Standera in Plzen, the Czech Republic. Standera, one of the last of the Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the French and British air forces during World War II, has died at age 95 in Plzen on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/CTK, Petr Eret,File) Slovakia Out
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PRAGUE (AP) — Fighter pilot Miroslav Standera, who fled Czechoslovakia to fight for the British and French air forces in World War II, has died at age 95.

Council officials in his hometown, the southwest Czech city of Plzen, said he died Wednesday but provided no cause.

Born a month before the end of World War I, Standera became a fighter pilot in the Czechoslovak air force but fled in 1939 following the country's takeover by Nazi Germany.

He joined France's air force and fought the German invasion there in May 1940. He was seriously wounded during a dogfight a month later but safely crash-landed. The Czech Defense Ministry said Standera was the last surviving Czech pilot to have flown for France during the war.

After France's surrender, Standera became a founder member of the Royal Air Force's No. 312 Fighter Squadron composed of Czechoslovak pilots; he and 87 countrymen served as RAF pilots during the Battle of Britain that year.

Later in the war, he flew twin-engine fighter-bombers on night-time raids into France and Germany. He clocked a total of 1,320 hours of combat flying time.

After the 1948 Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, Standera fled again to Britain again to escape persecution of those who had served in Western forces during the war. He rejoined the RAF for another seven years and returned home after the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

President Vaclav Havel granted Standera the honorary rank of brigadier general in the Czech military at a 2000 ceremony.

"Once you start flying, you won't stop until you die," Standera said in October, when he was guest of honor at a celebration of his 95th birthday at an airport near Plzen.

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