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SSGT Walter T. Brown survivor of the SS Leopoldville, died this week.

February 8, 2013

I learned this from his daughter that same day.    She left a comment on Facebook.

I first became aware of SSGT Walter Brown when I watched the History Channel program reporting the government coverup of the sinking of the SS Leopoldville on Christmas Eve, 1944.  Walter had a voice different from most of the soldiers who had been interviewed for this production more than 60 years later.  Many seemed sad and resigned.  Not Walter.

Walter said something like, “maybe it’s just me, but it seems like they could have towed the ship over to France and beached it.”  I know that’s not an exact quote, but I listened to Walter (and the others) multiple times, taking notes, trying to remember their names.

Walter’s name, his person, was easy to remember.  He had attitude.  He was a lot like the other GIs I met in Sarasota, Florida, in 2006 when Company E of the 266th Regiment had a reunion.  The old guys had the right and the freedom to express themselves with total honesty.  Several confided that they were glad they didn’t have to fire their M-1 rifles much.  They hated war. None of them would agree on everything, but they truly loved each other with an affection stronger than ordinary friendship.  They had been to war together.  Some had made an heroic leap from the SS Leopoldville to the HMS Brilliant alongside, a jump of 20 feet.  Walter was in the same regiment, Company F.  In 2005 the author Allan Andrade had phoned Walter to ask about my uncle.  Allan always got permission before handing out phone numbers to people like me.

Walter did not remember my uncle Carl R. Bonde Jr.  Not surprising, considering the immense number of men in the 66th Division.  They are all heroes to me.  I found most of them to be far finer than I could have imagined.

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