My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sentimental Sunday -- Two Soldiers Connect

There have been many wonderful stories on Memorial Day about our soldiers. This one is new and I am rather emotional writing about it. I am just afraid I am not doing this story true justice. There are four people involved, Jo is the sister of Bob (soldier, still living, and who held dying soldier Gary in his arms), Jo is trying to locate Gary's brother and Pamela is the director and cousin of Larry (brother of Gary). It all began on May 02, 1967 when Gary died in the arms of Bob. Last month, I received a letter from Bob’s sister Jo.

What would you do if you received a letter like this, "Barbara. My name is Jo ___. My brother served in the service with Gary. They were good friends and he wants to connect up with his family. Could you contact me. JO"

I wrote back, and the outcome was my most rewarding thing I have ever done. It turns out that Jo wrote me because I had brothers, Gary and Larry in my genealogy program. The brothers are my 5th cousins.

From Jo, I learned, "My brother Bob, served in the Viet Nam War with Gary. He was there when he died. They were really close friends. I think they trained together and went over together. He talks about Gary after all these years and still grieves over his death. He grieved terribly when Gary died. He has been trying to find his family for years. He asked me to help find them. He knew that Gary was from Detroit, Mich. My brother was from Ohio. My brother has Agent Orange. He got it in Nam. He is under constant medical care from the VA."

There were very few facts, but I was up to the challenge. Once I realized this was a real life situation of a soldier trying to find another soldier's family, this was my priority until all the pieces came together. Was I ever in luck Or I should say, we were all in luck.

I located Gary, but didn’t want to write him, because if this was a true event, I thought an email stating, “I know who the person is who held your dying brother” would be too painful. Fortunately, Gary’s cousin is a movie director / producer and I wrote Pamela to see if it was true.

An immediate reply came from her, and yes, the story was true. Being a writer in addition to her director / producer roll, Pamela had a lot to say. “WOW! I was 10 when Gary died and we, as family, always wanted even more clarification about his death. Gary was such a patriotic person and received many more medals than what we could comprehend based on what was told to the family about his death. I attended many of those medal ceremonies.” Pamela and I wrote many letters and everything came together.

From Jo (the sister of Bob):
“My brother Bob was only about 17 or 18 when this happened and Gary was only a couple years older. Bob said he cried for his mother when he was dying and that memory was burned in my brothers mind as he was so close to our Mom. What happened in the last minutes of his death was important to him and helped him get closure also.”

The two soldiers were connected, and the outcome was indeed happy.

“My brother and Gary’s brother talked a long time on the phone and my brother got some closure on Gary's death. My brother held Gary in his arms when he died. They were best friends in Viet Nam. My brother has grieved over his death for years and talking to Gary's family has helped them all. “The war was really bad for my brother and when he came home he was a mess. I am glad we finally found someone who knew Gary that he could talk to about him.” We wish to thank you for all the help you gave us in finding this family.” “Barbara, again we thank you so much. You were a life saver for my family.”

From Pamela (the cousin):
“Of course you can write about this on your blog. I am a writer and I totally want you to write about it. In fact, I'm due to give a speech at the foot of the Polar Bear Monument on Memorial Day in Troy, Michigan, just a short step away from where Gary is buried. The speech is about my film dedicated to the Polar Bears, and I will now be telling this incredible story about how you contacted me and how we found Bob so he could deliver his communication after all these years. It's quite a story isn't it? (I still have chills and tears in my eyes as I am writing this).”

“Thank you for all the work you do and for being the wonderful person you are to put us all in communication. Please let me know when you write about this on your blog. I would love to see it and I love knowing that others will now share this incredible story and pass it on.”

Bob, Larry, Jo, Pamela this is for you, and for Gary who will forever be in our hearts. Pamela, I am sorry I waited so long to write this, it was extremely difficult, but at last, I quote you, “I love knowing that others will now share this incredible story and pass it on.”


Heather Rojo said...

Oh, Barbara, this was a great story. I hadn't read any Memorial Day posts yet, so your story was the first. It will be hard to beat as I catch up on Memorial Day on all the other blogs!

Greta Koehl said...

Wonderful story - one of those times when you are so glad that you do genealogy. A wonderful way to observe Memorial Day!

Carol said...

Congrats, what a wonderful thing to do and to be a part of! When you can use your research for this kind of good, is there ANYTHING better?? Don't think so! You get the big WAHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO from Carol! Way to go Barbara!

Renate said...

Barbara, this is such a beautiful story, and so telling about the person you are. Even though I only know you electronically (lol), it's been easy to tell from your comments on my blog what a kind and giving person you are. Thanks for sharing this story with us.


Barbara said...

Thank you all my dear friends. I was so worried it would be too long, nobody would read it and it wouldn't make proved me wrong. Thank you, thank you for taking time to read it.

Becky said...

Barbara - it is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us all. It is so great that you were able to help them connect.

Betty said...

What a lovely story, Barb, how inspiring!

Jenna said...

Barbara, that is a beautifully, inspiring story! Thank you for sharing!!

Marian Pierre-Louis said...

Barbara, this was the perfect story for today. Thank you for sharing it with us.

GeneaDiva said...


Very moving and special Memorial Day story! Thanks for sharing with us today.

Amanda Acquard said...

What an amazing thing you did. Wonderful job and thank you for sharing it.

Jess D'Zerts said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing story, Barbara.

Kathy said...

Great story. So glad you shared it!

Barbara said...

Thank you all for taking time to read this and for your wonderful comments.