Facing death. A letter home. Memorial Day & D-Day tribute

My uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, known to the family simply as "Ebner," [ABE-ner] was a "prince of a guy," my dad said often. He was also a crack navigator on the B-17 Bomber during World War II. In one of Ebner's letters home, he speaks forthrightly of how he coped, facing death from the carpets of FLAK surging toward him over and over, as German fighter planes buzzed the B-17 to shoot it down. Then a tribute to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which Ebner also wrote home about. 

Landing the immigrant dream

On Jan. 11th, 1911, (1/1/11) a massive steamship, named "Friedrich der Grosse" (for Frederick the Great, a one-time Prussian ruler) pulled into New York Bay. My dad's father, Josef Gärtz, was on that ship, peering out at the Statue of Liberty, greeting him and the other hopeful and exhausted boat-load of immigrants. It was the beginning of a life entirely different from the lives of the family and friends he left behind.

New Year Nightmare

On New Year's Eve, 1910, a young immigrant boards a steamship from the Port of Bremen to head out into the unknown, across the Atlantic to America. Using his wits, Josef Gärtz overcame every obstacle in his path—and recorded how he did it in letters and diaries. That's why I can share with you today a first-hand account of what he experienced 108 years ago. Read on to find out what happened.

Terror atop the train!

On Christmas Eve 1910, my grandfather, Josef Gärtz, set off on what would become a harrowing journey toward America. His burning dream of a far-off land and the fiery drive he needed to get there, turned out to be the best Christmas gift he ever could have imagined for his future bride and their children and grandchildren. It was a gift that would keep on giving for decades to come.