Gratitude for the fallen

Caring to remember *** Dutch family continues adoption of WWII graves

 

By George Morris

Some time after Harold Gayle’s family got the dreaded telegram informing them that he had been killed in World War II, they received a wholly unexpected correspondence designed to give them comfort.

A family that lived near the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium wanted them to know that Gayle’s grave would be cared for.

“They wrote to my mother, I guess, 62 years ago and told her that they had adopted his grave and that they put flowers on it,” said Gayle’s younger sister, Edna Kennedy, of Baker

In 2008, she learned that the care was continuing.

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Returning part of a soldier’s history

Zachary Trussell, Elena Branzaru
Zachary Trussell holds the dog tag he found with his aunt, Elena Branzaru, along the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. The dog tag now is back with its rightful owner. (Photo by Arthur D. Lauck, used by permission of The Advocate newspaper)

By George Morris

It’s not every day I get asked to help locate someone, not knowing whether or not he is even alive. But when it involves returning a lost dog tag to a soldier? I’m all in.

In 2007, Elena Branzaru and her nephew, Zachary Trussell, were spending Memorial Day in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when they wandered to the edge of the Mississippi River.

“We were just messing around because we were on the levee,” Branzaru said. “We didn’t know what we were going to find.”

Lying amid broken glass, weeds, litter and driftwood near the Interstate 10 bridge was a dog tag that had been issued to Clarence A. Burke when he enlisted shortly after Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Burke, we would discover, hadn’t lived in Baton Rouge in more than a half-century.

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