Completing the Circle, 75 Years Later

Posted: June 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

We received an email from our blog friend Peter Pauwels in Heerlen, Netherlands, in late April asking us to find another American from 75 years ago. (You may recall how last year Ed and our blog friend in Spain, Fano, located the son of the woman who was director of the American Red Cross Rest Center in Heerlen during the war.)

Gerrit van Dort

A friend of Peter’s had come across a pocket Bible that had been given to his father, Gerrit van Dort, in WWII by an American Army chaplain. Gerrit had been a Dutch telephone lineman who had helped a U.S. Army signal company set up phone lines in Heerlen during the war. (Heerlen was where the 111th spent the winter of 1944-45.) The friend wanted to send the Bible to the family of the soldier whose name was written inside.

Peter emailed us photos of the Bible and its inscriptions. So of course Ed went right to work. Using an online phone directory, he started by looking for Nagelis in Pennsylvania. On his second call, he talked to a woman in her 90s who said her husband’s father was Alfred Nageli, also the name of her husband’s uncle.

She and Ed figured out that the name and address inscribed in the Bible was that of the uncle, who had served with the U.S. Army in Europe. Apparently Gerrit had wanted to stay in touch with Alfred after the war. Because Alfred had no children, Mrs. Nageli told Ed that her son, Gary, who was close to the uncle, would love to have this special family memento. The next day, Gary, somewhat astonished, called Ed. Gary later told us that all six of his grandfather’s children served in WWII.

It took about seven weeks for the Bible to arrive, due to delays in international mail because of the pandemic. Here is Gary holding the Bible last week. Known as the FDR Bible, this printing of the New Testament was given to soldiers and sailors in 1943.

  1. StephieD says:

    Wow! Good on you, Ed…such a hero, connecting people like you do. You really make a difference in peoples’ lives and I know they appreciate it. We’re so happy to have you in our lives! Thank you for all you do.

  2. Peter says:

    Wunderfull, Ed and Andrea. A really good job.

  3. Patricia J Macchiarolo says:

    Very touching, Andrea and I’m sure that it was greatly appreciated – you can see it on his face!

  4. Franklin Wise says:

    Andy: this is an outstanding testimony to your GREAT work via WWII Tracings.  Many families of your dad’s unit owe you  so much.  And, I know that they greatly appreciate your work. Congrats to you and Ed.  My honor to know you. Love you bothFrankPS:  I miss you guys and all of our friends at Bryce.

  5. Tom Sedlacek says:

    Such a nice article!

  6. Fano Suarez says:


    • Andrea says:

      Good to hear from you!

      • Rafael Fano says:

        Hello Andrea.

        I have to tell you I will bother you soon 🙂 .

        Jokes apart. Are you, your family and your friends well?. This is a complicated time everywhere.

        During the confinement, (we had a lot of time here), I learnt a couple of tricks for researching and finding people, if you want I can try with someone from the 111th.You and Ed are really good in that task. But if you still have some “open files” … Give me the names, probably I won’t do it better, but we won’t loose anything in the attempt.

      • Andrea says:

        Yes! We will certainly try to give you some challenges! Will get back to you soon. We are doing fine so far, living in a rural area and not going out much.

  7. Kay McAnally says:

    The good work you and Ed have done has meant so much to many people. I do believe the universe has led you to bring comfort and joy to so many people. Well done!

  8. S Hunt says:

    What a wonderful story to read especially during this time! I found your blog while researching my grandfather’s Ordnance Company – the 45th Medium Maintenance Co. He started in North Africa and went through Italy and France and finally into Germany and Central Europe. He was honorably discharged as a Tec 5.

    • Andrea says:

      We are so happy you found us! Your grandfather was in some very tough places. I hope you can find more about his time in the war. Remembering these wonderful men and passing their stories to the next generations is the best way to honor their service. Thanks for getting in touch.

  9. missnancy65 says:

    Hello, all! What fascinating stories of Herleen! I am about to visit Normandy, Omaha Beach, St. Lo as well as the town of Herleen where my father developed a leadership training facility for Army squad leaders in November, 1944. The only info. I have Is that the castle had been the home of a Baron who left when the Germans evacuated. Can anyone tell me which castle and the Baron’s name? I plan to visit Herleen. Thank you and best regards!

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