The Story of a Secret Wartime Romance.
Hal Collins’ war hero grandfather, Henry, always shied away from talking of his experiences in World War Two. Henry was on the long trek from the Anzio landing in Italy, through France, and to Germany, during which he was a survivor of the “lost battalion” at Monte Cassino and was wounded on the France-Alsace border.
While growing up Hal had to find out what all of Granddad’s medals were about from reading old magazine articles or sneaking peeks in his grandfather’s study. When his own father died Hal inherited his Grandfather’s cigar box full of notes and letters along with the request that he track down a certain private Henry had served with, or the man’s descendents. A now-grown man and a soldier himself, Hal discovers not only that the private kept his side of the correspondence, but also why Henry had been so reticent about his experiences in WWII.
Hal is in for yet another surprise when he finds the long-ago private’s grandson, Bud Montgomery.
And when Hal read those notes, he was glad he hadn’t read them until now, when he’d been through his own struggles with reality, and he knew why both his grandfather and his father had kept them secret—and, most of all, why his father hadn’t sent them off to the regimental museum with everything else. Underneath the ribbon-wrapped notes was a short letter from his own father, addressed to Hal. His father not only had kept the notes, but he had known that Hal would find them.
As it is evident that you have now found and read of your grandfather’s secret, I turn over to you the request that he made of me but that I was not equipped—either emotionally or by nature—to fulfill, as you are. You can understand all of this better than I can, I’m sure, and are much better able to decide what to do about this. The enclosed notes were written to your grandfather when he was a young army officer during the Allies’ Anzio beachhead invasion in World War II, when his unit marched from the boot of Italy to Germany. At the last, The General begged me to find what had happened to the young private who wrote these notes, Benjamin Montgomery, and to pass on The General’s highest regards, affection, and appreciation and his apologies to Montgomery or his surviving descendents, if any.
I had no idea what he meant before I found and read the notes. When I did find them, I regretted having promised to try. And I put off trying until it was too late for me. But by then I knew you would be the one to fulfill this request, if anyone could or would. Both because of who you are and because you have the means of searching the records from the Pentagon. So, I leave it entirely up to you on what you can or wish to do about this.
Hal sighed, picked up the box, opened the car door, and started walking back to the house where Benjamin Montgomery’s grandson lived.