Monday, July 5, 2004
Nick Mott makes the Troy Daily News.
Group helps families heal.
By MARILYN McCONAHAY-
Nick Mott of Troy was 10 months old when his father, Garner Mott, was killed on May 7, 1945, in Okinawa, by a mortar that hit him in his foxhole.
At that moment, Mott, a former City of Troy Street Department employee, became one of more than 183,000 children left without fathers during World War II.
Approximately 405,000 Americans died in the war, Mott said. In 1991, according to Mott, a woman named Ann Mix founded a support group called American World War II Orphans Network (AWON), which helps locate other orphans and family members. "The group brings orphans together as a family to share emotions and find answers to questions to better learn who our fathers were and what they endured for our sakes," he said.
In 1999, following a long search, Mott, who served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, was able to meet his father's unit of K-3-5 Marines during a reunion in Philadelphia, Pa. He even had the opportunity to speak with his father's best friend, Robert G. "Bucky" Pearson, and learn more about him. He said his father never got to see him, but wrote to Mott's mother that he wanted to hold his son in his arms and share his life with the two of them. It's emotional memories like that that spurred the formation of AWON.
Since the remains of most of the thousands of troops killed on foreign soil are still on mountain sides and even at the bottom of oceans, there can be no feeling of closure for most of the orphans, said Mott's wife Darlene, who not only supports her husband in this group effort, but also is quite active.
"Every time we find new orphans, they learn they can cry about it. They're becoming empty-nesters now and have more time to reflect. It's perfect timing to find each other and finally heal," Darlene said.
"Some of the mothers left behind had nervous breakdowns or committed suicide. In some cases, children were taken from the home and raised by relatives or someone else," she said. "AWON has researchers to help them finally find brothers and sisters who were raised by different families," she said. "AWON researchers also help us locate files and connect with orphans' units." Even seeing a father's handwriting helps form a link.
"Orphans latch onto very simple things that in any way link us to our fathers," Nick Mott said.
AWON has conferences during the year," Darlene said. "For instance, 500 of us went to Washington, D.C., for the Memorial Day dedication of the World War II memorial. We had special seating together." "And when we walked into the hotel lobby we were greeted by several tall brass easels displaying our fathers' portraits," Nick said. "Here we were in the nation's capitol and our fathers were there, looking over our shoulders."
To date, AWON has located some 3,000 WWII orphans around the United States. The group is constantly seeking new members, Nick said. Anyone interested in joining or learning more about the organization can visit online at: www.awon.org.
in memory of PVT Garner William Mott