Retracing his steps

“The people themselves are friendly with a few exceptions, as a result of four years of German occupation. Americans are well liked. And when you ride through the streets the houses are covered with French flags & quite a few stars and stripes. And as you go along, the people wave, some hold up their fingers in the sign of a V, others throw flowers or candy at you. Little children calling Viva l’Amerique. … That part of it all is thrilling & romantic but this part up here is just war and war is neither thrilling nor romantic. It’s just dirt, danger and hard work.”

— Army Pvt. Ed Jennings’ letter to his mother

July 16, 1944

STE. MERE EGLISE, France — 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.

“My visit here reminded me of what Pvt. Ed Jennings wrote in a letter near here almost 70 years ago,” Deanne wrote. “I agree with him about war. I have been involved with four wars starting with Vietnam and continuing with the ’91 Gulf war and Afghanistan & Iraqi Operations (2002-03).

“My heart and thoughts go out to the families of the 82nd and 101st Army airborne divisions. Without their soldiers’ sacrifices, this small town would not be the same. It was one of the first towns to be liberated by the brave Allied Forces.”


Behind the book, “Your loving son, ‘Ed’”:

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