Originally Published in eFlourishing Issue 8, March 16, 2010
Michel Grandin was ten years old when he saw the plane go down on June 10, 1944. It had been strafing a German convoy, when the pilot apparently misjudged the height of an approaching tree line – one of those infamous and ancient hedgerows of Normandy.
Michel’s father forbade him to run to the crash site, though he, a local carpenter, and the village priest did so. While these French patriots waited in the nearby woods, German soldiers policed the scene of the crash, taking the pilot’s identification and a few pieces of the wreckage of ConJon IV, a magnificent, scarlet-nosed P-51 aircraft. Later that night, Michel’s father and the priest recovered and took care of the pilot’s body, prepared a casket, and held a private funeral service. They buried Conrad J – the only name they knew to give him – in their church cemetery.
Katherine Henderson was born in 1923. She graduated from the most beautiful high school in the nation (according to Life Magazine) in 1940. She married Conrad John Netting, III in 1943. Within a year of the wedding, Katherine was a widow. Her only child, Conrad Netting, IV was born in San Antonio, Texas just one month after his father died in France.
That’s about all I can write through damp eyes. You’ll have to read Delayed Legacy* by Conrad John Netting, IV – and I sincerely hope you will. In it you will meet the most generous and elegant people of Saint-Michel-des-Andaines, and of San Antonio, Texas, too.
*Delayed Legacy, Conrad John Netting, IV, Maverick Publishing, San Antonio, 2005.