Sunday, August 18, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (August 18, 2013) -- Return Of A US Naval Academy Ceremonial Sword After 70 Years

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute your own stories of folks who have gone out of their way to lend genealogy-related assistance to others, I would greatly appreciate a mention to Filiopietism Prism whenever you do so.  Thank you!  And please do use the same photograph below to illustrate the prompt.  ;-) ]

In June 1942 the USS Erie (PG-50), was moved from its home base in Balboa, Panama to Cristobal, Panama and assigned to patrol against German Kriegsmarine U-boats in the waters between Panama and Cuba.  On November 12th she was leading a convoy between Trinidad and Guantanamo Bay when she was struck by three torpedoes from U-163.  Erie was badly damaged with seven killed and eleven wounded, so she was beached to prevent sinking.  The Erie burned for days, but later was raised and towed to the Willemstad, Curacao harbor, but during preparations for salvage, Erie capsized and had to be left in place until 1952 when she was partially raised and towed out to sea and allowed to sink in deep water. 

Enos Eldemire was a salvage diver in the Caymans and during salvage dives was able to recover a US Naval Academy ceremonial sword with the name Ned James Wentz engraved on it.  Understanding the meaning and importance of the sword, Mr. Eldemire set about trying to find the owner or his family.  He tried for years, and upon his death, his son, Kent Eldemire, a prominent businessman in the Caymans, came into possession of the sword . . . and of the quest to find its owner.  Kent Eldemire surfed the internet for years and years trying to find any lead that might help him locate the owner of the sword or his family, but without success.

Recently, Kent Eldemire got the clue he had been searching for.  A funeral notice in a Tallahassee, Florida newspaper publicized the death of a man by the surname Taber.  The notice stated that his widow was Frances Wentz Taber and Frances Wentz was the name of a daughter of Ned James Wentz, the owner of the sword.

Against all odds -- and thanks to the dauntless efforts of two generations of the Eldemire family -- Mrs. Frances Wentz Taber now has her father's long-lost US Naval Academy sword.  As it turns out, Mrs Taber was a genealogist and recognized the value of continued use of her maiden name for genealogy purposes.  It was this decision on her part that provided the clue necessary to find her and return the sword.  Internet search engines over the years had provided many false clues to Mr. Eldemire until he chanced on the name Frances Wentz Taber in the funeral notice.

To read the rest of this amazing story of two generations of Good Samaritans and their quest to return an especially meaningful part of the Wentz family history (and to see a photo of the sword), go here.    
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Photograph of the The Good Samaritan sculpture by Francois-Leon Sicard (1862 - 1934).  The sculpture is located in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The photograph is by Marie-Lan Nguyen and has been placed in the public domain by her. See,
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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