The Self Defense Legion's exact role is not known, but Nazi documents indicate that Karkoc and his unit were there.
An SS payroll document, dated Oct. 12, 1944, says 10 members of the Self Defense Legion "fell while deployed to Warsaw" and more than 30 others were injured. Karkoc is listed as the highest-ranking commander of 2 Company — a lieutenant — on a pay sheet that also lists Dak as one of his officers.
Another Nazi accounting document uncovered by the AP in the Polish National Archives in Krakow lists Karkoc by name — including his rank, birthdate and hometown — as one of 219 "members of the S.M.d.S.-Batl 31 who were in Warsaw," using the German abbreviation for the Self Defense Legion.
In early 1945, the Self Defense Legion was integrated into the SS Galicia Division, and Karkoc said in his memoirs that he served as a deputy company commander until the end of the war.
Following the war, Karkoc ended up in a camp for displaced people in Neu Ulm, Germany, according to documents obtained from the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The documents indicate that his wife died in 1948, a year before he and their two young boys — born in 1945 and 1946 — emigrated to the U.S.
After he arrived in Minneapolis, he remarried and had four more children, the last born in 1966.
Karkoc told American officials he was a carpenter, and records indicate he worked for a nationwide construction company that has an office in Minneapolis.
A longtime member of the Ukrainian National Association, Karkoc has been closely involved in community affairs over the past decades and was identified in a 2002 article in a Ukrainian-American publication as a "longtime UNA activist."
The lights were on at Karkoc's home Friday morning, but nobody answered a knock from an AP reporter seeking reaction to this story.
Karkoc's next-door neighbor said has known the Ukrainian immigrant for many years, and was stunned to learn about the Nazi past of a man he has shared laughs with and known as a churchgoer.
"For me, this is a shock," said Gordon Gnasdoskey, 79. "To come to this country and take advantage of its freedoms all of these years, it blows my mind."