“Frankfurt, which was a city of no small dimensions and very beautiful at one time, has without any exaggeration been completely destroyed. There are no more than a score of houses left standing and this city is much larger than Boston. Certainly, Germany has lost the war, there is no question about that. ... The roads are jammed with people of all nationalities who were once slave laborers here in Germany who are now wearily and slowly making their way back to their own countries. It is a pitiful sight to see them trudging along the roads.”
— Army Pvt. Ed Jennings’ letter
to his mother
April 15, 1945
Navy veteran Ron Deanne of Henderson in June retraced steps that Army Pvt. Ed Jennings took 70 years ago on battlefields and cities where the 5th Infantry Division fought in France and Germany during World War II.
Jennings had moved to Las Vegas from the East Coast with his wife, Fern, in 1984. He was dying from leukemia and was too sick to live his dream to return to France for the 40th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.
Ten years later, Fern Jennings wrote a book about the letters her husband sent to his family. After reading a Review-Journal story about the book, “Your Loving Son, ‘Ed,’ ” Deanne devoted his recent trip to Jennings’ memory and marked the 70th anniversary of the invasion and the battles that followed.
“It is extremely difficult for me to speculate where Ed was standing when he made that statement,” Deanne wrote from the suburb, Bad Humbourg. “However, Frankfurt is the now the financial capital of Germany and its welcome webpage states “the Continent.” Almost one of three residents does not have a German passport.
“For me, I am deeply grateful to men like Army Private Edward Jennings Jr. for the sacrifices they made. This allows me the freedom to visit the beautiful cities that our ‘Greatest Generation’ of heroes fought and died for.”
COMING MONDAY: A journey that began 70 years ago when an Army private from Boston who fought across France and Germany in World War II came full circle when a Navy veteran from Henderson returned from a recent trip there to deliver a jar of sand from Normandy’s Utah Beach to the soldier’s widow.