January 6, 2013
December 14, 1995:
The Dayton Peace Accords were signed in Paris on December 14, 1995 and the Americans were going to Bosnia.
December the 15th 1995 10:00 P.M.
I’m in San Diego surfing the Internet logged searching soc.culture.magyar, which at that time was a Hungarian news group on the net before the World Wide Web came into being.
As I was browsing articles, I come across one by BDM International. They were looking for US citizens who had some prior military experience, maybe had a security clearance and spoke Hungarian who were willing to go work in Hungary as translators for the US Army in support of the Bosnia Peacekeeping Mission.
At 10:00 P.M. I sent BDM International an email stating that I was interested.
December 16, 1995
The following morning at 9:00 A.M. I received a telephone call and was told that they were interested in talking with me and that they would fly me to Washington the following morning for an interview.
December 17, 1995
I land in Washington late afternoon and am taken by shuttle to a hotel in Falls Church, VA to prepare for the interview process that was to start the following day. I end up sharing a room with another Hungarian and wait to start the process the next day.
December 18, 1995
There are perhaps 100 or 150 people in the hotel with my group and most of them are Serbian, Croatian or Bosnian Americans with maybe a dozen Hungarian Americans. We spend most of the day filling out papers.
In the following days we fill out lots of paperwork, have a very extensive physical examination and get interviewed by a security officer in order to start the process of getting me a security clearance, if I qualify. After that we had a day or two of briefings about the situation in Bosnia, what the Dayton Peace Accords are all about and what my responsibilities were to be once I get to Hungary.
December 22, 1995
Due to weather condition in Bosnia and throughout Europe at the time, I sign a contract with BDM International and was put on the payroll and at the same time put on standby and sent home until New Year’s Day.
Taszar, Hungary, was the staging area for the US military going to Bosnia and they were backed up because of the weather.
This little time was enough for me to take care of some personal business before this new adventure in my life was to begin.
January 2, 1996
I leave San Diego for Washington again, but this time on a one way ticket. Sometime soon I will be leaving for Taszar, Hungary, the country where I was born but left with my family during the 1956 revolution. I knew and was getting excited That I would soon be heading into the unknown, back to my homeland, the land of my ancestors and the land and home of Goulash.
January 08, 1996|By ROSALINDA DeJESUS; Courant Staff Writer
Sandor Tomin watches soldiers and natives in Bosnia gesture at each other on the television in his McLean, Va., hotel room.
Soon Tomin, who lives in East Hampton, will help the U. S Army peace keepers communicate in the war-torn country.
Tomin is one of three American citizens hired by a consulting firm for the Army to translate for the American troops at a base in Hungary.
The one-year job is a significant career move for Tomin, who became a United States citizen last March. He hopes this will lead him to other assignments as a full-time interpreter for the government.
“This is a perfect match,” he said. “To support the Army is a way to repay the United States for accepting me.”
The native Hungarian received briefings in Virginia. He plans to leave for Fort Benning, Ga., today where he will receive training in avoiding mine fields. From there he and the other translators will leave for Hohenfels, Germany for more field training. Then he’s off to his job site in Kaposvar, Hungary.
Tomin learned of the job with BDM Federal Inc. through a friend, Angie Kelemen, who saw it advertised on the Internet. The Virginia-based company provides translators for the Army.
Almost overnight, Tomin’s life changed.
Two days after he answered the ad he flew to Washington, D.C., for an interview. Four days later, by the second week in December, he had the job. He requested a leave of absence from his job as assistant operations supervisor at the Greater Hartford Association for Retarded Citizens. On Dec. 22, he signed a one-year contract.
Tomin knows few details about his new duties, except he expects to translate a lot of correspondence and other Army documents. He is unsure when he will reach Kaposvar. He also anticipates long hours.
“Since I’m computer literate and I have translating background, I’m sure they’ll assign me to a unit where a lot of writing will be done,” he said.
Jim Moseley, program manager for the project at BDM Federal Inc., had even fewer details about Tomin’s assignment. Each translator will have a different assignment. Tomin may be staying in the local area or traveling to the border, Moseley said.
He said Tomin is one of 91 translators who speak Hungarian and 405 who speak Croatian that the company hired for the Army. Moseley said the company pays the linguists well, but he did not specify the salary.
“His Hungarian is excellent,” he said. “He passed the security screening. He is physically in good condition. He came through that filter of being qualified.”
This is Tomin’s second time working in Kaposvar. In 1980, he worked in the same town in Hungary as a Russian translator for the Hungarian army. He looks forward to visiting his parents, who live 120 miles from the town.
He said he has no fears. The worst part is the wait, he said.
“It’s going to be an adventure on the one hand, but it is nerve-wracking,” he said. “I’m so enthusiastic about it. I can’t sit. I can’t wait to start working with them.”
During his hotel stay in Virginia, Tomin speaks to other Hungarian and Croatian translators from across the country and the world and receives briefings from the consulting firm.
Or he looks up words in his bulky Hungarian/English dictionary, one of the few belongings he is taking along. He also has a duffle bag, address book, pictures of family and friends and a laptop computer.
The rest of his belongings are packed in boxes in the basement of Kelemen’s home.
Only six years ago, Tomin left Holland for the United States as a refugee. Shortly after that he received a master’s degree in English at Trinity College.
The former adult education English teacher at Hartford High School also has a teaching certificate in Russian and English as a Second Language. Besides Russian and Hungarian, he speaks Dutch.
Kelemen, who lives in South Windsor, said Tomin was an inspiration to her when she arrived from Pennsylvania to Connecticut in 1988. He was the first fellow Hungarian she met, she said.
“He’s tenacious,” she said. “He came here with nothing, looking for opportunity. I just wish him well.”