August 9, 2010: Respected photo industry elder Jan Novak is not resting on his laurels as he nears his nineties: this year he celebrated his 89th birthday, published an autobiography and just last week was awarded one of his native Czech Republic’s highest military honours.
The Consul General of the Czech Republic, Vit Kolar, presented Colonel Jaroslav (Jan) Novak with the Cross of the Defense of the State ‘in recognition of his excellent service in defending his country’. (Picture of the Consul General and Jan Novak to the right, courtesy of John Ralph). The event was covered by SBS and NBN.
Jan Novak served in the Czech Air Force and then escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia to join the Royal Air Force where he continued his war effort.
‘This award is granted in particular for combat and military actions, or saving lives,’ explained Consul General Kolar.
The new medal was struck in 2008 as a remembrance of the 90th anniversary of the founding of a free and independent Czechoslovakia.
Jan Novak operated the Novak Camera House in Hunter Street, Newcastle, for decades and served on the board of Camera House for many years.
Earlier this year he completed his autobiography, Lets add a little Oil to the Fire, which deals in the early chapters with his exploits and adventures during WWII and his eventual migration to Australia and success helping build the Australian photo industry.