Monday March 20, 2006

Discovery of a Lifetime

Titanium expert Danny Eylon finds more than he bargained for while searching former Soviet WMD lab on behalf of the the U.S. State Department.

Danny Eylon found more than he bargained for when the U.S. government sent the titanium expert to Levov, Ukraine, to examine a former weapons of mass destruction lab. He found family.

The parents of Eylon, chair of the University of Dayton's materials engineering graduate program, and his wife, Chaya, emigrated from Poland to Israel to escape the Holocaust. What remained of the families scattered by World War II had been a mystery until the Eylons' discovery.

Danny's parents grew up in Przemysl, Poland, while Chaya's family grew up in Tarnopol, which now is in Ukraine. Both cities are within 50 miles of Levov, where Danny was verifying that former Soviet WMD technicians are using their knowledge for peaceful, commercial applications.

Danny was working on behalf of the U.S. State Department and the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine. The center is a coalition of American, Canadian and European Union companies and government agencies that has worked to prevent the proliferation of WMD expertise since 1993.

A Ukrainian friend helped the Eylons locate Chaya's cousin through some detective work that included searching employment records. The Eylons were within hours of leaving Ukraine when Chaya and her cousin finally connected and arranged a meeting.

Danny doesn't speak Polish, but a student from a visiting teaching stint in Germany turned out to be Polish and already had plans to be in Przemsyl at the same time as the Eylons. Armed with guidance from what Danny calls his mother's photographic memory, the student led the Eylons to where Danny's mother had lived and her family had owned a store.

"For me, I could put a picture behind my mother's stories. I could live my mom's childhood," Eylon said. "As a Jew, considering how most people disappeared, this trip carries a high value, and it was very emotional."

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.