By Spc. Krista L. Rayford, 10th PCHMarch 13, 2009
"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another," said priest and author Walter Elliot.
By definition, perseverA,A!ance is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, especially despite difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. To persevere throughout ones' life would be a success. And that's just what Steve Pusztay did.
Born Oct. 10, 1947, Pusztay, a retired Army intelligence analyst, takes perseverance to heart in all he does.
"What motivates me the most is when someone tells me I cannot do something," said Pusztay. "It drives me to do my best."
Pusztay was born in Goeppingen, Wuertemberg Baden, West Germany, and spent most of his young life in a displaced persons camp.
"After my parents were liberated after having spent two years in a concentration camp in Austria, we lived in the D.P. camps for more than nine years," said Pusztay.
Pusztay had a total of 16 siblings; 10 brothers and six sisters. Eight are still alive today.
"I had six brothers murdered that I and my sibA,A!lings were forced to watch," said Pusztay. "My brothers' ages ranged from six months to two years."
As one of the oldest children, Pusztay and his sister, Anna Laszlo, were forced to keep their siblings safe while their parents tried to survive and avoid being discovered.
"We learned how to move slowly and quietly and spank those who didn't lisA,A!ten," said Laszlo. "This helped us to survive."
The family's hidden existence kept them alive and led them to sponsorship in the United States. They moved to Cleveland, in 1957 where Pusztay and his siblings began their schooling.
After terminating his Hungarian citizenship in 1964, Pusztay became naturalized in the United States. In 1967, after his naturalization, Pusztay was drafted by the Army for the Vietnam War. Heattended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. and served as a clerk typist.
Pusztay's military career went far beyond his draft selection. His total time in service equals 36 years, including six on active duty and 30 in the Ohio National Guard.
During his military career, Pusztay consistently worked on furthering his education, maintaining good physical fitness and establishing hobbies.
"It's the things that I do now and have done that help me get past what my family went through," said Pusztay.
Among his educational accomplishments, Pusztay obtained degrees from the Ohio State University in physical education, health education, psychological and sociological aspects of physical education and exercise physiology.
After taking advantage of all the education he could receive in the United States, he decided to become a teacher.
Pusztay taught in many schools throughout Ohio, in places such as Youngstown, Akron, and Cleveland. Whilehewas teaching, he also coached track and field, wrestling, cross country and robotics.
"I always pushed my students hard," said Pusztay.
"This is the only way I knew how to do things."
"Steve has always been a runner," said Laszlo.
"Exercising is what he does."
In 1996, Pusztay competed with the Minuteman team in Budapest, Hungary. Thecompetition consists of seven-man teams made up of members of any branch of the U.S. and international armed forces; active, Reserve or National Guard. During the World Championship, Pusztay led the U.S. team to a 2nd place finish and received an award as the oldest competitor.
When Pusztay was a child, he was told he wouldn't have the strength to be competitive, but he has competed in many competitions and marathons.
"Doctors told me that I wouldn't be able to walk, run or do anything," said Pusztay. "Due to malnutrition, my bones were not strong enough."
He explained that as a child he would neglect to turn in doctors' excuses so he wouldn't feel left out.
"It is important to overcome obstacles in all that you do," said Pusztay. "If you do, you are sure to feel accomplished."
As part of his military service, Pusztay deployed to Kuwait in March 2003.
He was thrown 150 yards by a fallen ammunition case while unloading a supply truck. The injury caused Pusztay to be hospitalized for more than two years.
Today, Pusztay is not as active as he would like and is undergoing medical treatment.
After he was released from the hospital, Pusztay decided to make a change for his family. He relocated his family from Ohio to North Carolina for medical reasons. Pusztay, his wife and daughter, currently live in Fuquay Varina.
Moving to North Carolina was not just a change of scenery for the Pusztays; it also provided an opportunity for him to pursue another challenge.
Pusztay, in collaboration with his brothers and sisters, has decided to give back to those in need by creating the organization Frozen Star veterans and Children's Retreat and Rescue, Inc.
"The organization's goals are: providing a safe haven retreat for veterans with disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder, children with special needs and animals that have been neglected and/or abused," said Pusztay.
The organization has received authorization from the state of North Carolina and is awaiting federal licensure and approval. They hope to have it up and running in the near future.
Pusztay encourages Soldiers to "Persevere, don't give up!"