This Memorial Day, I know there are many families who have stories of loved ones who died in combat. The stories of these service men and women should be told. I would like to tell the story of my great uncle, PFC Lewis Bryant.
When my father spoke about my great uncle Lewis, he did not know him, but he would remind me that I had lost a great uncle in Normandy. I found my great uncle’s story finally after researching my family history. My great uncle Lewis joined the Army in November 1941 out of a small mill town in South Carolina. He married my great aunt Lillie Mae in 1941. He was trained in South Carolina and shipped out with his unit (the 8th Division). His division landed after D-Day on July 4th, 1944. He was killed fighting the Germans in the hedgerows outside of a monastery on July 17th. He was only 26 years old. I don’t have pictures of my great uncle Lewis, but I know the story of his family. I know that his wife did not have her husband’s remains returned to the U.S. until 1949. She would go on and remarry. His unit would fight its way across Europe and liberate the concentration camp Wöbbelin. Wöbbelin housed over 5,000 people persecuted by the Nazis. Today, the 8th Division flag sits in the lobby of the U.S. Holocaust Museum as one of the units of liberators. My great uncle Lewis along with 2,851 others in the 8th Division died to ultimately free those 5,000 people in Wöbbelin along with thousands of others. Please remember my great uncle Lewis along with the million-plus Americans killed in war and the Gold Star families. They deserve to be remembered.