May 20, 2004

 

Tina Aden makes the Perryville Republic Monitor.

Daughter of war orphan to accept grandfather's honor
– by Kate Martin


Tina Aden of Perryville posted this photo of her grandfather,
George Davis, on her website. Tina and her husband Bruce
will attend the dedication of the National World War II Memorial
in Washington D.C.


A World War II war memorial has special meaning for a Perryville woman whose family was destroyed in the fighting.

Tina and Bruce Aden will attend dedication ceremonies of the National World War II Memorial during the National World War II Orphans Network (AWON) Conference from May 28-31.


The path of Tina's life was altered by the death of her grandfather nearly 60 years ago; next week, she will be honored in his place at the memorial's dedication.

Tina is the granddaugthter of PFC George T. Davis, who was assigned to the 87th Regiment, Headquarters, Third Battalion, during World War II. He trained at Camp Swift, Texas, with the 10th Mountain Division, in 1944.

"In December of that year, the entire division was moved to Camp Patrick Henry in Virginia," Tina said. "My grandfather and the rest of the 87th Regiment embarked from Hampton Roads aboard the USS West Point, bound for Naples, Italy. They arrived on Jan. 13, 1945."

"My grandfather was killed in action on April 19, 1945 at Badia di Sopra, Italy, which is a location near the town of Sulmonte. He was in an area that was being heavily shelled by German Artillery. A shell exploded near him, killing him instantly."

On Tina's website about her grandfather, she has posted a copy of the letter her grandmother Ruth received from George's chaplain, Capt. Edwin Gomke.

"By this time, you will have received the sad news of the death of your husband," he wrote.

"It is difficult to find words at this distance and in these circumstances to convey to you the complete sympathy felt for you who remain at home by the men of our division and the officers who command it.

"Your husband was killed April 19, 1945 in Northern Italy in action against the enemy.

"George has given his life for his country and you can be assured that God above has rewarded him for his supreme sacrifice."

Ruth was left with five daughters - Marian, Doris, Georgia (Tina's natural mother), Dolores and Yvonne.

"After the news of his death, the state ruled that my grandmother could not financially care for five children," Tina said. "So the state took three of her children, including my mother."

Ruth killed herself.

Georgia suffered in foster care; she was later adopted and married at 16.

"She had at least 8 children, and I was one of them," Tina said. "My mother's life was difficult. She lost her father, her mother, her sisters, and was hurt in foster care. My father left her and the state began taking her children."

Eventually, all of Georgia's children - Tina's natural brothers and sisters - were taken from her and placed for adoption with Catholic Charities.

"My mother was destroyed when they took her children," Tina said. "When I was six years old, she killed herself."

Tina didn't know any of these details growing up.

"My parents, Eldon and Theresa Moore, adopted me and kept my name the same," she said. "They raised me in the church as my natural mom would have wanted and provided a Catholic education for me.

"They are absolutely the best parents in the world. I always knew I was adopted. When I was older, my parents helped me search for information about my natural parents."

The search took an agonizingly long time, but Tina has finally been in contact with all seven of her known siblings.

"We met last year right before our father died," she said.

Learning about George and Ruth and her mother Georgia has been painful.

"My grandfather gave his life for his country and then his family lost everything," she said. "I've talked to men who served with my grandfather and I know that he was a good husband and father.

"One of the men with him the day he died told me that my grandfather had survived 108 days of constant fighting. Their patrol was over for the night and they were heading back to their camp when a shell hit and killed him. In five days, the fighting ended."

Tina's association with AWON has put her into contact with many other war orphans and their children.

"This happened more than you can imagine," she said. "AWON is a wonderful group of people who have provided a lot of support for me since I've learned my family history."

Through AWON, Tina and Bruce have been invited to sit with 600 veterans and their families inside the World War II Memorial during its dedication.

"My grandfather never saw his kids or his medals and the family was broken after he died," she said. "I am so honored that I'll be there in his place. I'm going to wear his purple heart and we'll get to sign his star on the Wall of Stars.

"I know it's going to be emotional for me, not just because of the dedication, but because I will finally meet so many of the AWON people who have helped me find information - and cope with what I've learned."

One of Tina's recently reunited siblings is also in the military.

"My older brother Chuck has just been deployed to Iraq," she said. "That's sad because we haven't had a chance to get to know each other yet.

"I can't wait for him to come back, but after all our family has gone through because of my grandfather's sacrifice, I can't begin to express just how proud I am of Chuck and everyone who is serving in the military now.

"I'll be thinking of him when we're in Washington."

"In Their Memory" is the theme of the sixth AWON National Conference. AWON is a national organization of men and women whose fathers or grandfathers were killed during WWII. More than 183,000 American children were left fatherless as a result of their father's service in WWII.

For more information about AWON and its activities, log on to www.awon.org.

Congress authorized the establishment of the National World War II Memorial in 1993. It honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the United States during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home. The memorial is located at the end of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Tens of thousands are expected to attend the May 29 dedication.

"It will be a monument to the spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation and to the broader cause of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world," Tina said.

"It's time for the World War II veterans to have a memorial," Tina said. "It's because of them that we enjoy the lives we have now and we'll never know the sacrifices they made."

Congratulations, Tina!!
in memory of her Grandfather, PFC George T. Davis, KIA 19 APRIL 45 at Badia di Sopra, Italy