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WW II Fallen Hero Left Behind Photo Lab

July 10, 2014

Cleaning my darkroom, mixing chemicals, checking viability of films and papers. In 1960 I played with my uncle Bud’s photo lab stuff. Bud was killed in action just 4 years and 3 months before I was born. The developer powder was in a corked glass tube. Oxidized, it looked like dark brown sugar when I spilled it out.

It was part of an early Kodak Tri-Chem Pack my uncle PFC Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr. left behind when he took the train for the US Army induction center in Butte, Montana. This was March 4, 1942. Carl, or “Bud,” was destined to be in the machine gun section of the weapons platoon, Company E, 262nd Infantry Regiment, 66th Panther Army Division.

In 2007 I phoned William Moomey, close friend of Bud’s. William lived in Kearney, Nebraska, with his wife. William was the head machine gunner in his section and Bud was his ammo bearer. I told William that I planned to carry some soil from Carl’s home in Kalispell, Montana, to the English Channel. The S.S. Leopoldville remains on the bottom of the Channel ever since December 24, 1944, when German U-boat 486 detonated a torpedo close to the compartment where Company E berthed. Bud and 763 others died just 5 miles from Cherbourg, France.

William liked our idea (my wife’s actually) of putting the soil in the water and offered to write a prayer. Then I asked him the best way of getting to Cherbourg. “Don’t take the Leopoleville,” he said.

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