Posted 07 June 2008 - 11:27 AM
The following appeared in the Houston Chronicle today. On 6 June they had bearly a mention of D-Day 64 years ago.
D-Day helmet keeps memory alive
Artifact found in France returned to U.S. soldier's family, and elicits awe, admiration
By PATRICIA C. MCCARTER
Newhouse News Service
MERIDIANVILLE, ALA. — The soldier's son can't help but wonder if what was in the package from France would have made his father talk.
Nothing else did.
"You couldn't drag anything out of him," Mike Adcock said about his father, Elbert. "And Mom wouldn't talk about it either. Much of what he did in World War II is a mystery to his five children."
But maybe being reunited with his old helmet would've prompted Elbert Adcock to talk about being a glider rider on D-Day.
Maybe he would've shared details of the horrible afternoon six weeks into the Normandy invasion when a mortar shell fell at the feet of the 22-year-old private and blew off the bottom part of his left leg.
Maybe he would've even talked about the nightmares that woke up the whole house.
Or maybe not.
The soldier has been gone since 2001, so there's no way to know how he would have responded to having his helmet liner — recently discovered on the shelf of a garden shed in France — mailed to him by an appreciative Frenchman.
"He probably would've just said something like, 'It didn't help me much then, and I guess it won't help me much now,'" the son said.
Adcock, 44, said the helmet liner was rediscovered by Alain Carbonnel, who lives near Saint-Lo, a village almost destroyed in the war. He recently moved into his father-in-law's home and found the liner while exploring the property. Apparently, the father-in-law found it not long after the fighting in France and put it in the shed as a keepsake.
The soldier's name and serial number were written on the Army green liner, and Carbonnel tried via the Internet to find the owner. The language barrier and limited resources prevented success, so he contacted the Department of Veteran Affairs in Washington to accomplish what he could not.
"There were a lot of Adcocks in World War II," the son said. "And all of my father's military records were destroyed in a fire (at the National Personnel Records Center) in St. Louis in 1973."
But a diligent veterans affairs worker, Deborah Vandover, wouldn't give up. She finally — and sadly — came across Adcock's 2001 obituary. Because one of Adcock's daughters, Vanessa Levan, had an unusual last name, she tracked her down and called her.
And she called Mike.
Suddenly, the part of their father's life that had been kept a virtual secret from them was tangible. And it reminded them of what an amazing man he was.
Even though their father was still having operations two decades after he was wounded, they never heard him complain about it. He mastered his prosthetic limb, and he continued to hunt, fish and work in the garden until he died at age 78.
When Mike's young son — far too young to have even a whiff of a memory of the man who wore the helmet — asks about the package from France, Mike is only too glad to tell the story. He just wishes he knew more to share.