By Anna Yukhananov
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BELMONT, Mass. — When Tom Mooradian graduated from high school in 1947, he wanted to go abroad to see the world. His older brothers had served in the navy during World War II, and Mooradian wanted his own taste of adventure. A rising basketball star — named player of the year in Michigan — and ranked five in his class of 310, Mooradian was at the brink of a bright future.
But instead of traipsing through Europe, Mooradian chose to go to Armenia, then part of the Soviet Union. He would remain there for the next 13 years, in often-brutal conditions.
“Why would anyone want to go to Soviet Armenia? I’ve been asking myself this question for many years, and I still don’t have an answer,” Mooradian said.
He spoke about his experiences of repatriation during a book talk for his memoir, The Repatriate: Love, Basketball, and the KGB, at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) last Thursday.
Mooradian said the Soviet Union first attracted him because it was a US ally in World War II, but relatively unknown in the West. He may also have been affected by the ideas of his father, an ardent Communist, and the tempting propaganda of the Soviet Union.