Shortly after talking with crewmember Doral Hupp, another email arrived from a lady whose father was also MIA. She wrote that if my brother, S/Sgt. Eugene Darter, was MIA or buried overseas, his name could be found in the American Battle Monuments Commission database Website.
I immediately entered his name on the webpage and was again amazed when a webpage with Eugene’s name and information on it popped up. Wow! It provided his unit (95th Bomb Group), and that he was honored on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery in England. Our family never knew this, and here was such a beautiful military cemetery with my brother’s name engraved in stone. If only our father and mother could have seen this! Also, the names of the two MIA pilots from my brother’s plane were also on the Tablets of the Missing: Lt. Fred Delbern at Cambridge and Lt. Don Neff at Margraten.
My first trip to Cambridge came soon afterwards and it was an experience I will never forget, and have repeated it many times since. Cambridge American Cemetery has 3812 burials and 5127 names on the Tablets of the Missing, which is a massive high and long white stone wall. Along the massive wall are four statues, one of which is an American Airman, carrying his chest pack parachute (same as my brother), and is a perfect reproduction of what they wore on missions. This statue, not far from my Brother Eugene’s name, has become to me, my “big brother”. I always climb up on the pedestal next to him and give him a big hug on every visit and you can only imagine what we say to each other.
Being on the actual site and walking among the burials and the Tablets of the Missing had a huge effect on me as there were so many MIAs and burials of brave young Americans who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Whenever I am there, I always walk along the massive wall and touch some of the names found there such as Lt. Fred Delbern (my brothers pilot), Glenn Miller (the great band leader who was missing after playing one of his last concerts at my brother’s base), and Joseph Kennedy (President Kennedy’s older brother, who after flying all his dangerous missions volunteered for one last extremely dangerous mission and lost his life when his B17 blew up in the air en route).
On Memorial Day, there is always a special ceremony, and many families and dignitaries attend and give speeches. An Air Force band would play, the Queen’s representative and an American representative would give speeches, and there will be a flyover. There is also the presentation of memorial reefs along the wall of the missing. It’s a very emotional time for everyone, and it makes one feel incredibly proud that a family member made this kind of sacrifice for freedom.
Three times now, the incredible cemetery staff who take such great care of the cemetery, have packed sand from Normandy into the letters of my brother’s name so that it stands out among the five thousand names. Taps are played, the US and UK flags are there, and it’s a moment that pays the utmost of honor to these young men who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
To top it all off, I recently discovered that my brother’s story has been put on the website of the Cambridge American Cemetery.
American Battle Monuments Commission [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons