Carrie Jones Ross, our feature writer, has just gotten back from Europe, where she took part in a ceremony in France honoring her grandfather, who was killed in World War II. She writes, “My grandfather, Harold ‘Win’ Spink, was a bombardier in World War II who perished with his entire plane crew – a B-24 bomber named ‘Star Valley’ when they were shot down over a small village in central France. My mother was a baby when he died, and never got to meet her father, who was described by family and friends to be charismatic, larger-than-life, zany and fun. My grandmother was madly in love with him and was bereft over his death to the very day she died.
“Last week, my mother, daughter and I joined almost 20 other descendants of the Star Valley plane’s crew in St Léonard-en-Beauce, central France, for the 70th anniversary of France’s Victory Day where they honored the sacrifices made for their freedom. Some of the fellow descendants present were American soldiers, and they all marched in the parade in formation with the marching French soldiers – bearing the French, American and British flags – side-by-side. So moving! The village erected a beautiful memorial with an image of the craft and the crew members’ names. They displayed the propellor from my grandfather’s plane and photos of the plane and crew, which has been on permanent exhibit in the village hall. Very moving, and the reverence and gratitude the French have is so inspirational.
“I am so glad my family’s loss continues to be appreciated by so many. This was the front page of the newspaper, with me standing next to my mother and the village mayor. I was reading the names of the soldiers in English. The event was in several newspapers and was broadcast on several news networks as well.”