America’s Anne Frank

Originally published in Flourishing December 2011.

November 11, 2011—Veteran’s Day—I was privileged to be in New York City, attending Nick Murray’s  Behavioral Strategies Conference.   I attend Nick’s conferences whenever I can, for the same reasons that I read his books, essays, and newsletter: Twenty years of reading Nick Murray has not just made me (I hope) a more effective advisor; it has (I know) made me a better husband, father, grandfather—and a better American.

As one example, in the March 2010 issue of his newsletter, Nick reviewed and recommended Delayed Legacy, by Conrad Netting IV.  Conrad’s father was the same age as my father, and like my dad, Conrad John Netting III set out to do his part to rid Europe of the Nazi scourge.  From June of 1944 through May of 1945, Ted Harvey walked and belly-crawled across Europe—from Omaha Beach through France, Belgium, and Germany—to the banks of the Elbe River.  Conrad Netting’s job was to provide air support for soldiers like Ted.

So, even before Allied infantry forces were fighting their way through the hedgerows of  Normandy, Conrad Netting was skillfully piloting his P-51 Mustang on missions to Berlin, Frankfurt and other German industrial centers.  Then, while on similar missions  after D-Day, Conrad—like many other courageous young pilots—didn’t hesitate to drop out of the clouds to take on German ground forces whenever the opportunity presented itself. 

It was on just such a mission on June 10, 1944 , as he strafed a German convoy—effectively saving the little French town of Saint-Michel-des-Andaines—that Conrad Netting III became a casualty of war.  Five weeks later,  his bride, Katherine Henderson Netting, gave birth to their son, Conrad John Netting IV.  (Look closely and you will see that Conrad’s P-51 was named ConJon IV.)

Katherine never remarried.  She packed up her husband’s belongings, and the many letters that had passed between her and Conrad, and stored them all—along with her memories—in a place that was to remain private for nearly fifty years.

On July 4, 1994, a year after his mother’s death, Conrad Netting IV learned about the foot locker stamped with his father’s name.  For the next decade, he explored—at home, and with the gentle people of Saint-Michel-des-Andaines—his long-delayed legacy. 

I bought Delayed Legacy on Nick Murray’s recommendation in April of 2010, and I’ve returned to it many times.  I never expected to meet its author.  But, in New York City on Veteran’s Day– 2011, Conrad Netting IV—who Nick Murray had likened to Anne Frank for the illustrative power of his personal story—autographed my well-worn copy of his book.  As I visited with Conrad, I found him to be just as charming as his book is wise. Katherine had raised a good man! I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so honored.

Today, Conrad Netting IV is a CPA and financial advisor in San Antonio, Texas, the city in which he was born.  You can get his book at Amazon or from Barnes and Noble, but I’ll be happy to order an autographed copy for you, directly from Conrad.  Just ask.  mh