Sunday, January 5, 2014

Samaritan Sunday (January 5, 2014)

[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.  ;-) ]

Alfred T. Cabral is 88 years old now. He lives in an assisted care facility in Worcester, Massachusetts, but his home town was Hudson, Massachusetts in 1943. Like many of his generation, he served in the military during World War II.  He enlisted in the Army as an 18-year-old and after first setting foot in Italy on a beach in the vicinity of Anzio and Nettuno as part of Operation Shingle by the Allied forces on January 22, 1944, he survived the "Battle of Anzio" where there were 43,000 Allied casualties (7,000 killed and 36,000 wounded).

Mr. Cabral participated in some of the bloodiest battles of WWII including against the Germans' Operation Nordwind.  Nordwind (North Wind) began on December 31, 1944 in Alsace Lorraine in northeastern France. It was the last major German offensive of WWII on the Western front. The German objective was to break through the lines of the American 7th and French 1st Armies in the Vosges Mountains to allow for the German move against the American 3rd Army. This was during the famous Battle of the Bulge (Dec. 16 - Jan. 25., 1944) that started further south in the Ardennes just two weeks before Nordwind began. 

On January 10, 1945 during the battle in the Vosges Mountains, Alfred Cabral stepped on a land mine buried deep in the snow and almost had his left foot taken off. Alfred was evacuated and his foot was saved due to the use of a fairly new drug called penicillin.  He spent the remainder of the war in military hospitals and eventually returned home to Hudson where he joined the police force and progressively advanced to Police Chief before retiring in 1979. He is the recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service in WWII.

An unnamed Good Samaritan was walking on a beach in Nettuno, Italy (the area along with Anzio where the initial Allied landing took place) the past year, when he came across a bit of metal in the sand. It turned out to be a very old dog tag. Rather than keeping it as an artifact of WWII, the man thought it must have belonged to a soldier killed during the famous battle that occurred on the beaches of Anzio/Nettuno in January 1944 -- seventy years ago this month -- so he decided he would not keep the dog tag and instead made the effort to turn it into a local military cemetery.

The day after this past Christmas, December 26, 2013, the American Battle Monuments Commission (which has responsibility for military cemeteries and memorials for fallen Americans all around the world) sent an email to the Cabral family.  The Commission had come into possession of something that belonged to Alfred T. Cabral.

Read the full story of Alfred Cabral and the family history that the simple act of one Good Samaritan has renewed by going here. You can also see a photograph of Mr. Cabral in his WWII uniform with his mother, father, and two sisters around taken around 1944.   

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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 2014, John D. Tew
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