February 21, 1945

On this day seventy-five years ago, my father’s life was profoundly impacted by a piece of shrapnel and two strangers.

As a 20-year-old small town football star, he found himself far from his Kansas home on a WWII battlefield near the French/German border. He was a radio operator assigned to a forward observer team directing artillery fire to attack the Germans occupying a French town. His battalion was ambushed, and he was taken prisoner. Right after being captured, an artillery shell exploded behind him. He realized his “pant leg was filling with blood.” An artery in his leg had been severed by shrapnel. “As I attempted to get my belt around my thigh, two German soldiers came down the trail. One stopped and tried to help me with the belt, but the buckle broke. The soldier went on. The last I remember, I had crawled in front of a bunker, maybe 75 yards across a clearing, and two German Soldiers came out and were looking down at me. When I awoke several hours later, I was in a German field hospital.” A few days later, his left leg was amputated. He remained a POW for several weeks.

Reflecting on my father’s life, I know this was a pivotal moment for him, strengthening his faith in God and in human kindness. He questioned why his life was spared when so many others died in the battles. He knew he had been rescued by two enemies who could have stayed in the safety of their bunker, but chose to risk their lives to help him….an “American soldier who just moments before had been directing artillery fire toward the area.” As he wrote years later, “I was fortunate to have fellow human beings rise about the typical act of warfare and perferm an act of Christian brotherly love. To forgive your enemy and then risk your life to save his–that is the ultimate in forgiveness.

My father felt God had a reason for sparing his life. He never considered himself a victim. He strove to make his life worthy of the risk the two enemy soldiers took to save him. Many years after the war, he returned to France and Germany, hoping to thank the two people who saved his life. Though he met with former German soldiers when he traveled with veteran tour groups, he never found the men.

Today, seventy-five years after the fateful date of February 21, 1945, I picture my dad sharing a toast in heaven with his fallen brothers and the two Germans. I’m not sure if they’re lifting glasses of French wine or steins of German beer, but I know they are grateful for His blessings.

Today I’m remembering those of the Greatest Generation who sacrificed to liberate occupied lands and push back evil forces to secure freedom for many. I also will not forget the family members who supported the soldiers on the frontlines. My mother’s story of strength and faith is an amazing testimony to be told another time. With a grateful heart, I thank all who sacrifice to serve our country, especially the members of the United States Army 70th Infantry Division….the Trailblazers. You will not be forgotten!

My dad’s favorite Bible verse

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose. ~~ Romans 8:28 (KJV)

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8 Responses to “February 21, 1945”

  1. Melissa Henderson Says:

    Thank you for sharing about your Dad. Very touching.

  2. Sherida Stewart Says:

    I so appreciate your comment! Dad’s story is incredible. His was a life well-lived. Thank you!

  3. Jill Weatherholt Says:

    Sherida, what a beautiful tribute to your father. This is such an incredible story and one I feel blessed to have read. I’m picturing your father in heaven with those men as well and it warms my heart. Thank you so much for sharing this moving story. <3

  4. Sherida Stewart Says:

    Jill, thank you for your touching words. Even though it would be nearly impossible so many years later, Dad hoped to learn of the two men. With the ongoing battle, the soldiers may have been killed. The day after my father’s capture, the highest number of 70th Division causalities was recorded. Probably the Germans suffered similar losses. Picturing my dad finding the men in heaven makes me smile. God always has a plan. ♥️

  5. Tina Radcliffe Says:

    This is an absolutely amazing story. You were blessed to have such a man for your daddy.

  6. Sherida Stewart Says:

    You, as a veteran, would appreciate his story, dear Tina. Growing up, he was just a regular daddy to me. At that time, he didn’t talk about his war experiences. He even preferred to hide his disability. After his retirement, he began to share his life story. Though of course I saw how both he and my mom were impacted by his injury, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to understand the depth of both his faith and his strength. Thank YOU for your service…and ALL you do for others! ♥️

  7. Patti Jo Moore Says:

    This is such a wonderful tribute to your dear Daddy, Sherida. He was undoubtedly part of The Greatest Generation – – hard-working, brave, and caring. He certainly raised a sweet daughter, and I’m sure he was so proud of you!
    Thank you for sharing this. I think it’s so important to keep these stories alive for future generations!
    Hugs, sweet friend.

  8. Sherida Stewart Says:

    Thank you, Patti Jo! The Facebook group of my dad’s Army division has been posting memories from seventy-five years ago. His division arrived in France late December 1944. They headed to the front lines and engaged the enemy. All just boys…far from home, inexperienced in battle. This past week his group suffered the most causalities. Reading the memories posted has been heartbreaking. So many didn’t go home to their sweethearts and families. I don’t want to forget those of the Greatest Generation. Thank you for your thoughts, my friend!

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