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Yes, Someone Does Read Our Stories


by Tom Bowers SBTS Writer/Researcher

 

   All of us who write stories for SBTS finish each story with a question in our mind: Will anyone read this story? Someone did read a story that I wrote, and the experience has inspired me to think that I must write every story with the belief that someone will read it.

 

I had written a story about Army Staff Sergeant Francis Willard Truex Jr. of Nappanee, Indiana, on August 29, 2023. Francis was killed in action on December 5, 1944, in Saarlautern, France, after the Battle of Metz. I had gotten his name on my own because I found it on a plaque dedicated to World War II fallen in Columbia City, Indiana, the county seat of Whitley County. I grew up in Whitley County and wrote stories of 90 fallen from there.

 

Nappanee is not in Whitley County, but a newspaper story about Sergeant Truex’s funeral said that his parents lived in Columbia City and that his body was to be returned to their home. He was repatriated to the United States with the World War II Dead Program on the U.S. Army Transport Oglethorpe Victory for reburial in the Municipal Cemetery in Bremen, Indiana, on August 21, 1948.

 

“Junior” was with F Company, 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army, which fought in North Africa, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, North France, Rhineland, and Ardennes-Alsace. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for heroism the day that he was killed by a German sniper after leading his squad on an assault against a machine gun emplacement.

 

   Fast forward to May 7, 2024, when I got this email from Jill Truex Miller, who grew up in California and now lives in Washington state:

 

Sgt. Francis W. Truex, Jr.


“I am the niece of Francis Willard Truex Jr (known as "Junior" in the Truex family), and I am writing with some more information about him.  I was so touched and amazed to find your article about him on SBTS!!  I have been inspired to join the cause and am in the training process right now. 

 

“My father (Royce Truex, born in 1929) was home with his mother when the telegram [about his death] came, and it is one of the sharpest memories of his childhood.  Junior had a younger brother, "Red" Lowell Truex, who also fought in WW2 as a pilot, and thankfully survived to serve a long career in the military.”

 

It turns out that Jill was familiar with Columbia City and had “fond childhood memories of family reunions in Columbia City where my grandma lived (and where my dad mostly grew up). I have a vague memory of a memorial at the courthouse square.”

Jill included the letter from the War Department that detailed how Francis had died as well as a copy of the printed program for his memorial service. She later told me how she had found my story:

 

“My husband and I are traveling to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, so I have become more interested in my family's involvement in WW2.  I went to Google to see if I could get any more information about Junior, and I found your story in a link on "Forces War Records" by Ancestry.com.  With your information on his company, regiment and division, I was also able to get a little more detail on his journey. My dad, Royce, and his brother Bill are still alive and very pleased to learn about what SBTS is doing.

 

“I am certain that many people do read your stories, even if they don't all send you an email.  I was just so touched that you were interested in Junior and felt he was important even 80 years after his death.  So, thank you for that.”

 

Yes, people do read our stories, and in this case, my story inspired someone to join the SBTS effort. Write on!




Tom Bowers of Ashburn, Virginia, has written more than 750 stories for SBTS since June 2022.

 

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