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Local WWII soldier is honored, after decades of searching - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Local WWII soldier is honored, after decades of searching

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

Near the end of World War Two, the Mayfield family of Shreveport received the worst news. Their son William Mabry had gone missing in Europe. Later, they discovered he'd died when his foxhole was hit directly by fire. Mabry's mother spend years trying to find her son, but it was her granddaughter who found him. This past week, she brought him home in a ceremony with a full military honors.

Friends and family of Mabry spoke longingly of the times they spent with him during Thursday's ceremony. None were able to give Mabry a proper goodbye until now. After years of clues, friends and family finally know where in Holland Mabry lost his life and rests. His niece Peggy Gouras traveled to Europe twice to find him and brought back a remnant to rest with his family.

"Sixty-nine years later, my grandmother's prayers have been answered," Gouras said. "To the best of our ability, we brought Mabry home."

Letters written by her grandmother first sparked Gouras' interest in finding her uncle. They detailed a long search for her missing son. Gouras picked up where her grandmother left off and traveled to Margraten Cemetery. There she found Mabry's name among more than a thousand written on a memorial wall.

"I had brought a picture of my grandmother with her son Mabry to hold up next to his name as sort of a symbolic reunion of a mother finding her boy," Gouras said.

However, Mabry's remains and location of his death remained unknown until a second trip. That's when a Dutch historian found Gouras and shared a discovery.

"He said I found Mabry," Gouras said. "I found the dike on which your uncle was killed." Gouras says she first prayed a message of thanks.

"And thought, we have found my grandmother's boy, and we'll do the best we can to bring him home," Gouras said. "So, I scooped up a handful of soil from the dike, as my uncle had now become part of the land he had helped to liberate."

She and Mabry's friends sprinkled that soil across his foot maker at the Mayfield family plot. Gouras says it's a tradition veterans follow. They sprinkle sand from the beaches of Omaha across the names of their friends to pay tribute to their sacrifice.

"The soil from Moerdijk is rich and dark, made richer by the sacrifice of promising young men who gave their all so that strangers in a strange land could regain their freedom," Gouras said.

You can honor Mabry Mayfield and other veterans by attending the Veterans' Day parade, which will be tomorrow at 2 p.m. within the State Fair of Louisiana.

 

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