A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Friday, November 04, 2005

Very Touching Story

LA Times: Saved by a Saint in a Tank---

For 60 years it percolated in Sam Goetz's mind, rising to the level of obsession — this need to find the American soldier who had loomed so large in the most critical moment of Goetz's life.

On May 6, 1945, Goetz, then 16, was among 18,000 prisoners liberated from the Nazi concentration camp at Ebensee, Austria, by the U.S. Army's 3rd Cavalry. The squadron commander, a tall, young sergeant, climbed down from his tank and pronounced them free.

We "kissed his hands and touched his uniform, as if touching a saint," Goetz would recall years later in his memoir, "I Never Saw My Face."

"Each of us wanted to make sure the man was real … that this was neither an illusion or a dream … "

Goetz spent years combing through war archives in Washington, D.C., without ever learning the soldier's identity. "I was haunted by it," says Goetz, now an optometrist in West L.A. "Who was that man in the first tank? What is his name? Is he alive today?"

On Saturday, Bob Persinger — now a bespectacled, gray-haired veteran — strode through the lobby of a Century City hotel and reached out to shake Goetz's hand. The Holocaust survivor stared back, measured reality against his memories, then opened his arms for an embrace.

And the soldier who had seemed so tall 60 years ago stood cheek to cheek with the man he had saved.
Read the rest of the story.