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They were all young kids

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©2014, Aaron Elson



Jim Cary

© 2014, Aaron Elson

     Captain Jim Cary was a company commander in the 712th Tank Battalion. He was wounded in Normandy, and again during the Battle of the Bulge.

    I had this picture, sort of a glamorous photo of my wife, Norma, in my duffel bag which was left behind when I was wounded.

    It was taken by a Louisville, Kentucky, studio — she’s from Louisville — and all it had on it was, "Love, Norma."

    We didn’t know that there had been something special about this picture, but I came back and then I was wounded a second time up in the Bulge, and I was back in Madigan General Hospital and people started sending us clippings of a story that had appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

    It said that here was this photograph of Norma. Then it said that this guy named Corporal Tornaire who was from Kentucky worked in a quartermaster corps and drove a truck in the 90th Infantry Division. He said he was sick and tired of hearing guys from Texas and Oklahoma, particularly from Texas, talk about how good-looking the Texas girls were, and he was going through my stuff after I was wounded to take out the government property and he came across this photograph. So he says, "Look, this is proof that Kentucky girls are better-looking than Texas girls." It had the name of the Louisville studio on the back. So he took my damn photo, which he had no damn business to, put it in his truck, and started driving across France with it.

    So the truck gets bombed and he’s not hurt, and he decides that this photograph is a lucky talisman of some kind. The war ends, and he gets more and more curious, he wants to know who is this girl Norma from Louisville. He was from Louisville, too. So he sent the photo and a letter to the Courier-Journal in Louisville, and they traced the photo back to Norma’s family, and they wrote this story about this Corporal Tornaire. The article ended by saying he wanted to meet this girl, but alas she has a husband.