My father, Joseph James Jordan, was killed in action in WWII on March 3, 1945 in Oremont, (Ormont) Germany. My mother received a MIA followed by verification of death in May of 1945. He was buried in Luxembourg till he was reburied at Arlington National Cemetery about 1948. He was with the Army 346 Infantry Regiment drafted from Scranton, PA. He left a wife, a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Jordan Galligan, age 4 1/2 and a son, Joseph J. Jordan (deceased), who was almost age 3. As our father was overseas for so long, my brother nor I ever had any memory of him. As reported by so many, our mother was so heartbroken, she rarely spoke of our father. We were never able to fully express the loss of our father.
In 2001, my mother mailed me a package of all the letters she had saved from my father -- the first letter was dated January 1944 France. It took me many weeks to read all the letters then compile them by date. I only wish I had these letters growing up as my father's love for my mother and for his children was palpable. His last letter told her that it was almost over; that was a letter dated February 1945; he was killed just days later. I never succeeded in getting my brother to read any of these letters; I never knew why yet I respected his decision. I made a feeble attempt in 2001 to gather more information yet the St. Louis, MO records had burned so I felt there was no hope of recovery. I also attempted to locate his buddy who was with him when he was killed -- John Daly -- to no avail, as I had no hint of where he was from -- just one letter he wrote to my mother in September, 1945 when he was stateside. I had his ID number yet that did not help locate him. I will forever cherish their friendship and frequent mentions in letters from my father.
Now about AWON. About to fly from a Florida airport for a trip, my husband and I sat in an airport lounge. It was Memorial Day of 2015. Our grandson from Kansas called to remember my father and acknowledge the day. A couple sitting nearby overheard our conversation and started to tell me about this organization for WWII orphan -- AWON -- American WWII Orphans Network. He was the son of a father KIA in WWII; he and his wife spoke enthusiastically about the organization. I soon joined AWON. I am so grateful for this chance encounter to learn about those who understand the hole in the heart feeling about a father, just gone .......
When I contemplated writing a tribute to my father, I realized there was just one picture of him in uniform standing alone. There are others taken probably the last time my brother and I saw him as we were so little. After restoration of the photo, I could move forward with the task of trying to remember someone I did not remember. All my relatives are long gone as is my brother who died in 2009; my mother died in 2012 at age 94 outliving her 11 brothers and sisters! All of my father's family, including 8 siblings are also deceased. None of us were good at leaving genealogy information.
Reading the precious letters written to my mother by my father reflected his love for her and his two children was very evident. The letters were written from England, France, Belgium, and Germany including his fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in winter of 1944. Some of the letters mentioned his handwriting saying his fingers were frostbitten and it hurt to write. He was a very religious man saying so many times that he was able to attend Mass in the field and how he was glad to receive Holy Communion when he could. He knew that my Mother always lit a candle at Church for him. That memory of my mother lighting a candle lasted till the time near her death; I don't think I knew that was why she continued lighting a candle so long after his death. Perhaps she never stopped praying for him and then all of us. I recall that one of his last letters told of his plans to build us a wooden swing set and slide. I don't recall seeing one of those till my grandchildren were born. He must have been way ahead of his time. His letters always mentioned family -- the Jordans and my mother's family, the Higgins'.
So, even without a memory of his voice, his laugh, or his kisses, a World War II orphan sits here in Florida at age 76 wishing my father had lived to be with my mother, my brother, and me. My faith tells me we will be together again, someday. Meantime, I am grateful for my wonderful husband of 55 years, two children on earth and one in Heaven, and five terrific grandchildren. Family is growing as some grandchildren are married or are soon to be; grateful for that. I believe that LIFE is for the living and only God knows when that time is up. So, live life to the fullest. Oh, remember to be grateful! I, a WWII Orphan, am grateful for AWON!
– M. Elizabeth Jordan Galligan, Hobe Sound, FL–