No ordinary lives and no ordinary story

New Market , AL

Last summer retired Col. Tom Fincher of Chapin, S.C., gifted me with a book he wrote. Fincher is the current American Legion Department of South Carolina commander. We had served together in the 18th Infantry at Fort Riley during the 1970s and have crossed paths several times over the years.

He had told me he was working on a book but gave no details until it was finished. What I received was a phenomenal 504-page journal of American servicemen and women who had served in WWII and now reside in the Chapin area. It is an incredible piece of work recording lives of young Americans who served in all corners of the globe then returned home to restart their lives. What a great tribute to our WWII veterans!

The best part of the story for me is the inadvertent connection made between a WWII veteran and the son of his former WWII company commander who is a distinguished Vietnam infantry veteran. While reading through the book I saw the name "Captain Howard Goldsmith" on page 406 in the story about Private First Class Fred Shealy.

Shealy relates how his unit was engaged in combat near Mannheim, Germany, under the command of Captain Goldsmith. The name rang a bell with me. I have only known one "Goldsmith " in my entire life. Retired Col. Richard Goldsmith was the G3 Operations Officer of V Corps in Germany in the 1980s and I know him personally. When I had served in the G3 of 3rd Armored Division, a subordinate unit of V Corps, I first met Goldsmith in Schloss Kransberg during an exercise conducted in the winter of 1986. Goldsmith is now retired in Huntsville, Ala., near where we live. We have renewed our friendship here.

I contacted Goldsmith and asked him if his father had served in the 71st Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division in WWII. Goldsmith confirmed this fact and I related how I had read a very complimentary story about his father in Fincher's book. Goldsmith did not know Fincher but was very interested in the story. The next step was to connect the veteran, Mr. Shealy, with the son of his former company commander - neither of whom knew each other. After some coordination through Fincher, Shealy and Goldsmith were able to speak on the phone to each other. What a great event to connect a WWII veteran with the veteran son of his former company commander!

Shealy related the story about Goldsmith's father which had to do with Captain Howard Goldsmith preventing another American soldier in the unit from murdering the German prisoners they had just taken. Goldsmith, a former ethics instructor at the U.S. Army War College, had never heard this story from his father. He was sorry that he had not known the story earlier as he relates that it would have been a good example for his ethics instruction.

« Previous story
Next story »