WWII crash survivor was diligent self-starter
After a fiery plane crash during a World War II Army Air Corps training mission, a doctor thought he knew the fate of young Mark Karas of Export.
“The doctor said to the nurse, ‘I wouldn't worry too much about this one; he won't be here by morning,'” said his daughter, Kathy Christy.
Her father, who slipped “in and out of consciousness,” heard that, and he fought back.
“This nurse realized ... he was a fighter,” Christy said. “With the determination of my dad and the nurse and, naturally, the hospital ... he fought his way back.”
Mark Karas of Export died on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, of complications from a stroke. He was 94.
A military radioman, Mr. Karas was training that day in Texas with eight other servicemen before heading to the Philippines. The day was gray and foggy, and the pilot crashed into a mountain. Only Mr. Karas and another man survived.
Mr. Karas managed to open a hatch to escape the burning plane. The hot metal seared his skin, necessitating skin grafts.
Just nine months later, he was deployed on active duty to the Philippines.
Mr. Karas returned home and outlived the doctor's prediction by many decades. Only days before his death, he chopped wood and tended to his garden, preparing cabbage to make sauerkraut, his daughter said.
With an eighth-grade education, Mr. Karas worked in Pittsburgh stockyards to help his parents support the family. He taught himself algebra and worked in construction for various companies, specializing in turnpike road work, bridges and water drainage. He retired as a supervisor.
Mr. Karas loved to oil paint, particularly wildlife images, and to do taxidermy. He was a member of St. John Baptist de la Salle Catholic Church in Delmont and VFW Post 33 in Greensburg.
“He had good judgment. He was a very fair and kind-minded (person),” Christy said. “He was very generous. To the day he died, he was still donating to the March of Dimes.”
Mr. Karas was predeceased by his wife, Kathryn E. (Simons) Karas; a son, Luke S. Karas; and son-in-law, Mel Christy.
He is survived by his daughters, Kathy Christy, and Helen Smith and husband, Mike; sons Mark Z. Karas, and wife Susan, Jonathan Karas and wife Sherry, and Matthew Karas and wife Beth; daughter-in-law, Deanna Karas; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements and burial in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont, will be private. Contributions in his memory may be made to a charity of one's choice.
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Pirates must land Lester
- Wiz Khalifa’s life not the same, but he’s still having fun
- Steelers notebook: Brown calls Sanders’ comments about Roethlisberger ‘terrible’
- Pirates notebook: Trade rumors for Red Sox pitcher Lester still swirling
- Steelers hold high hopes for pass defense
- U.S. Steel looks to expand its Research & Technology Center in Munhall
- Joe Greene only 2nd player in Steelers history to get number retired
- After years of lobbying, Big Ben has Steelers running the no-huddle
- Beloved teacher at 3 Western Pa. schools hears from students across nation
- ‘Bangerz’ tour a long way from ‘Hannah Montana’ for Miley Cyrus
- Fire causes Blairsville bar to collapse, flames spread to neighboring building